Electoral Act: Passage of Bill will determine our preparation for 2023 elections – INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disclosed that it will release the timetable for 2023 elections immediately President Muhammad Buhari signs the electoral amendment bill into law.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who made this disclosure on Tuesday in Abuja during the first quarterly meeting with political parties for the 2022, said the commission was looking forward to speedy passage of the bill.

He said that the commission was encouraged by the assurance of the Senate President to give priority attention to the bill when the eventually return from recess.

Professor Yakubu congratulated the Chairman of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Engineer Yabagi Sani, on his election as Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC).

He equally congratulated other members of the executive committee of IPAC.

According to him, the Commission has worked closely with the immediate past leadership of IPAC chaired by Dr Leonard Nzenwa.

“I wish to reassure IPAC of the Commission’s continued cooperation and support for the umbrella body of political parties in Nigeria. We look forward to working together with IPAC in line with the guiding principles enshrined in its Code of Conduct”.

“Undoubtedly, the year 2022 is going to be a very busy year for the Commission and the political parties. The 2023 General Election is just 396 days away. All the critical preparations must be concluded this year”.

On the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), as at Monday 17th January 2022, a total of 8,260,076 eligible Nigerians commenced the online pre-registration, completed the registration physically or applied for transfer to new voting locations, replacement of their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) or updated their voter information records as required by law.

“The Commission has been publishing weekly progress reports of the exercise. We are aware that Nigerians want to know when their PVCs will be available for collection. At the moment, the Commission is undertaking the most comprehensive cleaning up of the data to ensure that only eligible citizens are added to the voters’ register for the 2023 General Election and will share our findings with Nigerians and the actual dates for the collection of the PVCs nationwide will be announced very soon”, he added.

The InEC Chairman urged the political parties to continue to encourage eligible voters who have not registered to do so, bearing in mind that those who had registered at any time previously need not register again.

“Also, encourage voters who wish to transfer from their present Polling Units to new ones created as part of the Commission’s expansion of voter access polling units to do so immediately”.

“Turning to the major end-of-tenure and off-cycle elections, party primaries for the Ekiti State Governorship election are scheduled for 4th – 29th January 2022. For the Osun State Governorship election, primaries will hold from 16th February to 12th March 2022. In the case of Ekiti State, all the 18 political parties have served the mandatory notices for the primaries”.

”Let me seize this opportunity to draw the attention of parties to the necessity for transparent and rancour-free primaries. Parties should also respect their chosen dates for the primaries based on the Commission’s Timetable and Schedule of Activities. Already, many parties have rescheduled their primaries several times. While the Commission has earmarked a period of three weeks and 4 days (i.e. 25 days) for the conduct of the Ekiti State Governorship primaries, virtually all political parties have decided to hold their primaries in the last 4 days i.e. 26th – 29th January 2022. In fact, seven political parties have chosen the last day for their primaries”.

He noted that no party has so far submitted its list of aspirants, the composition of its electoral panel, or the register of members or list of delegates depending on the chosen mode for electing its candidates adding that, only one party has indicated the venue for its primaries.

He urged the political parties to do so immediately to enable the commission to work out the detailed plans for monitoring the primaries.

” All primaries for electing candidates must take place in the constituency where election will hold as required by law. In the cases of Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections, any primaries conducted outside the two States will not be monitored by the Commission and their outcomes will not be accepted”.

On the FCT Council, Professor Yakubu said “It is now 25 days to the Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory. Major activities have already been carried out, including the conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates by political parties. Only last week, the Commission presented the register of voters to political parties while the PVCs for new registrants, requests for transfers and replacement of cards have been printed and delivered several weeks ago to our FCT office for collection by voters”.

”In the next few weeks, the Commission will intensify stakeholder engagements, the monitoring of campaigns by political parties and preparations for election day activities”.

“On this note, I want to draw your attention to the distribution of voters to Polling Units in the FCT, particularly the fact that 593 out of 2,822 or 21% of the total, do not have voters. This is because voters failed to take advantage of the expansion of access to transfer to these new Polling Units. The detailed distribution of voters to Polling Units in the FCT is among the documents in your folders for this meeting.
“For emphasis, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) will be deployed in the FCT elections which is the second major election after the Anambra Governorship election held in November last year. The 68 constituencies in the FCT (six Chairmen and 62 Councillors) covering extensive urban and rural locations sharing border with five States in the North Central and North Western parts of the country is another opportunity to pilot the efficacy of the BVAS in a different geographical, geo-political and electoral context”.

”The same technology will be deployed in all forthcoming bye-elections across the country. For all elections going forward, Polling Unit results will be uploaded in real-time to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal,” he said.

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