From Romanus Ugwu, Okwe Obi, Abuja, Okey Sampson, Umuahia, Chukwudi Nweje, Lukman Olabiyi, Jeff and Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, reassured the Nigerian electorate that only their votes would determine the winners among the 15,322 candidates contesting various positions in next year’s general elections.
It reiterated its commitment to deliver credible, free and fair elections, reassuring that the votes of the electorate would definitely count.
The Commission’s chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, gave the assurance in his keynote address at the Annual Conference of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, held in Lagos.
He admitted that with the lifting of ban on political campaigns, the tempo of political activities has increased with parties, candidates and their supporters, commencing campaigns, rallies, processions and media advertisements, to canvass the support of the electorate.
He, however, stressed that the commission would pay particular attention to the conduct of parties, candidates and their supporters, reassuring that as the regulator, it would play its roles to ensure compliance with the provisions of the law, as well as its guidelines and regulations
“The 2023 general election is fast approaching. It is now 141 days to the Election Day. Polling units will open at 8.30am on Saturday, February 25, 2023, for national elections (presidential and national assembly), and at the same time on Saturday, March 11, 2023, for state elections (governorship and state assemblies).
“Campaign in public by political parties officially commenced on Wednesday, September 28, 2022. Therefore, the tempo of political activities has increased as parties, candidates and their supporters commenced campaigns, rallies, processions and media advertisements to canvass the support of the electorate.
“The Commission has published the final list of 15,322 candidates contesting for 1,491 seats (one presidential, 28 governorship, 109 senatorial, 360 house of representatives and 993 state assembly constituencies) in the General Elections”, he assured.
He explained that the technological innovations introduced by the Commission would guarantee and protect the sanctity of the choice made by Nigerians at the polls.
He said: “For this reason, the Commission has introduced many new innovations, supported by the deployment of appropriate technology, to protect the sanctity of the choice made by Nigerians at the polls, ranging from voter registration to voter accreditation and result management. The deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) with its dual fingerprint and facial biometric accreditation process has ensured that only genuine voters are accredited to vote during the elections. This has curtailed the incidence of multiple voting and other sharp practices associated with voter accreditation during elections.
“The BVAS has come to stay and will be the only means by which voters will be accredited in the 2023 general election.
“Furthermore, the introduction of the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) Portal has made the result management procedure more transparent. Polling Unit results are now uploaded in real-time to the IReV portal for public view”, he said.