BY BENEDICT NWACHUKWU, ABUJA
The Independent National Electoral Commission has warned those peddling rumours of alleged plans by the Commission to postpone the 2023 general election which is weeks away due to insecurity bedeviling the country to purge themselves as the Commission is not contemplating adjustment of the timetable let alone postponement of the entire exercise.
Addressing the National Chairmen and Secretaries of political parties during the official presentation and delivery of registered voters for the upcoming elections at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday, the Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said “With just 44 days to the 2023 General Election, electioneering campaigns are in full swing following your nomination of candidates for the 1,491 constituencies for which elections will be conducted this year. As you are no doubt aware, the presidential election as well as elections for 109 Senatorial Districts and 360 Federal Constituencies will be held on Saturday February 25, 2023.
“Two weeks later, Governorship elections in 28 states of the federation and all 993 State Assembly constituencies will be held on Saturday March 11, 2023. I want to seize this opportunity to thank the Chairmen and leaders of political parties for your sustained engagement with the Commission in particular and Nigerians in general on critical electoral issues. I want to reassure you that by working together, we will sustain the tradition of regular consultative meetings with political parties and other critical stakeholders.”
Yakubu recalled that on February 26, 2022, the Commission released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election.
Since then, the Commission has been relentlessly implementing the 14 step-by-step activities listed in the Timetable.
“Some of the major activities include the conduct of primaries by political parties, the nomination of candidates, the publication of lists of candidates and commencement of campaigns by political parties. With the presentation of the register of voters to political parties at this meeting, the Commission has now successfully implemented 11 out of the 14 activities on schedule.
Furthermore, the implementation of other activities has proceeded in earnest.
“Already, substantial quantities of sensitive and non-sensitive materials have been deployed to various locations across the country. The last batch of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System has been received while the ongoing configuration of the critical technology in readiness for elections will soon be completed.
In the last two days, we commenced the airlifting of other sensitive materials to States across the country.
“Already, some of the materials for 17 states in three geo-political zones have been delivered. Furthermore, 13,868,441 Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) have been printed, and delivered to states and are being collected by citizens as new voters or by existing voters who applied for transfer or replacement of cards as provided by law. Similarly, following the display of the voters’ register nationwide and the conclusion of claims and objections by citizens, a new national register of voters has been compiled. In short, at no time in the recent history of the Commission has so much of the forward planning and implementation been accomplished 44 days ahead of a General Election.
“Therefore, the Commission is not contemplating any adjustment to the election timetable, let alone the postponement of the General Election.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Presidential and National Assembly elections will be held on Saturday 25th February 2023 while Governorship and State Assembly elections will be held two weeks later on Saturday 11th March 2023. The repeated assurance by the security agencies for the adequate protection of our personnel, materials and processes also reinforces our determination to proceed. The 2023 General Election will be held as scheduled. Any report to the contrary is not the official position of the Commission.”
According to the Chairman, “As a further affirmation of the Commission’s readiness to conduct the 2023 General Election as scheduled, the final register of voters has been compiled.
You would recall that for the 2019 General Election, Nigeria had a voter population of 84,004,084. After the cleaning up of the data from the last Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise (June 2021 – July 2022), 9,518,188 new voters were added to the previous register resulting in the preliminary register of 93,522,272 which was presented to Nigerians for claims and objections as required by law.
At the end of the period for claims and objections by citizens, the Commission received 53,264 objections from Nigerians to the prevalence of ineligible persons on the register by virtue of age, citizenship or death. These names have been verified and removed from the register.
In his response, the Secretary of the Inter Party Advisory Council, Yusuf Dantale, while thanking the INEC Chairman for the successes so far recorded in the organization of the elections took a swipe at those he claimed have been working secretly to derail the efforts of the Commission.
Dantale further assured that IPAC as a body will ensure and insist that the elections were conducted in such a way that only the people of Nigeria will through the ballot decide who will lead the country.
“The next election is going to be an election that has not been witnessed in the country because it is going to be the first time that technology would be deployed to accredit voters and to also transmit results. We are aware that some politicians have been working secretly to undermine the efforts of INEC, but we must ensure that power truly returns to the people.
“We will ensure that the anti-democratic forces don’t have their way. The use of the special device must be encouraged because it will discourage vote buying and the issue of writing results”.
The IPAC scribe also appealed to the leaders of the political parties to always remember that power belongs only to God and that He gives it to anybody He likes.
He also admonished them to always work in the overall interest of the nation which he said is paramount especially when it has become clear that other African countries are waiting on Nigeria to lead the way.
Consequently, the register of voters for the 2023 General Election stands at 93,469,008. Of this cumulative figure, 49,054,162 (52.5%) are male while 44,414,846 (47.5%) are female.