BY BENEDICT NWACHUKWU, ABUJA
The Chairman of the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Mahmood Yakubu has decried the huge nomination fees adopted by the political parties and disclosed that the Commission is handicapped because the Electoral Act doesn’t cover that aspect of political activities.
Prof. Yakubu, however indicated that the Commission will continue to work with the anti graft agencies to curtail escalation of moneybags politics and bring in some sanity.
Speaking at a recent stakeholders meeting with media executives in Abuja, Prof. Yakubu also lamented the involvement of the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele in partisan politics saying that such move will drastically affect the commission as the CBN is its major partner in safeguarding the essential materials for elections.
“We are worried just like other stakeholders especially that the CBN plays a very pivotal role in ensuring the safety and security of the essential and sensitive electoral materials which it also distributes on behalf of the Commission.
“Since the Apex Bank handles this very sensitive task for us because of the confidence we have in it as an agency that was insulated from partisan politics, we are not unmindful of the implications of the recent development.
“In this regard, we are considering other partnership with other organizations because of the credibility of the process and we would consider alternatives.
“We have nine months before the general elections and we will see what we can do to sustain the confidence Nigerians have on the electoral process.”
Yakubu disclosed that based on the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, the Commission released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election over two months ago. Since then, the official notice for the election has been published as required by law. Similarly, all the 18 political parties in Nigeria have forwarded the schedules for the conduct of their primaries to the Commission and some have commenced the process of choosing their candidates by conducting Ward and Local Government congresses.
He added that beyond the conduct of primaries by political parties, the Commission is required to make Regulations and Guidelines for the implementation of the provisions of the Electoral Act, saying, “I am glad to report that the Commission will finalise the document next week to guide the conduct of future elections, including the forthcoming Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections as well as the 2023 General Election.
“With regard to the Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections, the Commission is processing applications by media organisations for accreditation. I wish to reassure you that all applications will be carefully considered and expeditiously treated. The Commission will also work with the security agencies to ensure the safety and security of journalists and their unimpeded access to all voting and collation locations during elections.
“There are many progressive provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 which require clear understanding to guide implementation. One of such provisions is the electronic transmission of election results.”
The INEC Boss also disclosed that the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) will end on June 30 which has led the Commission to suspend the online registration on the 30th of this month to enable the online registrants complete their registration physically at designated centres.
“As you are aware, the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise ends next month i.e. 30th June 2022. Both the online pre-registration as well as the physical registration at designated centres are taking place simultaneously. However, online pre-registrants would require time to schedule appointments to complete their registration physically at designated centers. For this reason, the Commission has decided to suspend the online registration in the next three weeks i.e. 30th May 2022. This will enable the online registrants to complete their registration physically at the designated centres before the exercise is suspended on 30th June 2022. This will enable the Commission to clean up the registration data, print the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and compile the register ahead of the 2023 General Election,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prof Yakubu stated that the commission is fully prepared for the forthcoming Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections taking the lessons it learnt from the most recent bye-elections.
“The lessons learnt from the most recent bye-elections have been taken into consideration as we prepare for the forthcoming Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections. The Commission has finished the configuration of the BVAS for the Ekiti State Governorship election. To further ensure optimal performance of the BVAS on Election Day, the Commission will undertake a mock voter accreditation exercise in Ekiti State ahead of the main election on 18th June 2022, the details of which will be announced shortly.
“We have reviewed the functionality of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) following the complaints received after the recent Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) held on 12th February 2022. Two weeks later, the Commission conducted six bye-elections in four States across four geo-political zones of the country covering rural, sub-urban and urban areas. It was the most extensive geo-political deployment of the BVAS since it was pioneered in the Isoko South I State Constituency bye-election in Delta State in June last year. In these bye-elections, the BVAS functioned optimally as attested to by the reports of field observers accredited by the Commission.”