From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has attributed the delay in the release of the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections to the delay in the passage of the Electoral Amendment Bill before the National Assembly.
Chairman of the Commission Prof Mahmoud Yakubu dropped the hint at the first quarterly meeting with the political parties in Abuja on Tuesday.
Yakubu also announced that the Commission will be deploying the new electoral technology, Bimodal
Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), in the February 12 Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Election.
“On the Electoral Amendment Bill currently before the National Assembly, the Commission is encouraged by the Senate President’s assurance to give priority attention to the Bill when the National Assembly reconvenes from its recess today, and the commitment by the President to assent to the Bill as soon as the issue of mode of primaries by political parties is resolved.
“We look forward to a speedy passage of the Bill, which is crucial to our preparations for future elections. As soon as it is signed into law, the Commission will quickly release the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election based on the new law.
“As we commence our first regular quarterly consultative meeting for 2022, let me seize the opportunity to congratulate those who may be attending the meeting for the first time after your party’s elective conventions,” he said.
While giving an update on the FCT Area Council Election, he said: “For emphasis, the 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 a 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, geopolitical 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.
He also gave an update on the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), announcing that the Commission is currently undertaking a comprehensive cleaning up of the register.
“The CVR which commenced in June last year has entered the third quarter. As of yesterday Monday, January 17, 2022, a total of 8,260,076 eligible Nigerians commenced the online pre-registration, completed the registration physically or applied for a 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.
“I want to request that you 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,” he said.
On Ekiti and Osun governorship election, he said: “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. Similarly, 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.
“As of yesterday, only one party has indicated the venue for its primaries. I urge you all to do so immediately to enable us to work out the detailed plans for monitoring the primaries. All primaries for electing candidates must take place in the constituency where the 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. This also applies to primaries for bye-elections conducted outside the constituencies,” he said.
While commending the leadership of INEC, the National Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Engr Yabagi Yusuf Sani said: “In our capacities as leaders of political parties, we are in good stead to bear testimony to the diligence and efficiency shown by INEC in the distribution of electoral materials and deployment of personnel in the conduct of the November 6, 2021, Anambra state governorship election.
“We as well saw the impacts of the unprecedented application of among other technological devices, the Voter Enrollment Device and the BVAS, which cumulatively resulted in the evident smooth conduct of that election and which, at the end of the day, was widely acclaimed by most stakeholders and observers as transparent, credible, free and fair.
“It is our fervent hope and prayers, that the new heights in the standards of performance. by INEC will not only be sustained but, further perfected and improved upon for greater degrees of success in its conduct of future elections. We are in this regard, anticipating more superlative performance by INEC in the remaining off-season elections, beginning with the Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory and later on, the gubernatorial elections in Osun and Ekiti states,” he noted.