From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured that it has no preference among the political parties or candidates in the next year’s presidential election.
INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu gave the assurance in his keynote address at the 4th Abubakar Momoh memorial lecture held in Abuja on Wednesday.
He promised to ensure that all valid votes were counted and winners were decided sorely by the voters, assuring that the optimal performance of technology deployed during the governorship election in Ekiti and Osun States bore eloquent testimony to their electoral value.
Represented by Chairman Board of Electoral Institute, Abdullahi Zuru, the commission said: “As the 2023 general elections draw near, it is imperative for all stakeholders especially the political parties note the major features introduced by the new Electoral Act 2022 and the possible implications of these changes on the upcoming elections: the happenings that accompanied the recent party primaries attest to this.
“These changes include amongst others, the conduct of early party primaries by political parties, technological changes in the electoral process, the commission’s power to review the decision of the Returning Officer and overvoting based on the number of accredited voters.
“These new initiatives as contained in the law served as the bedrock for the reviewed Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections 2022 released by the commission on May 24, 2022. This in turn dictated the review of the Manual for Election Officials, 2022.
“Let me draw your attention to the fact that the use of electronic devices such as the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS), INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED), INEC Results Viewing Portal (IRev) and other technological devices, are now legally allowed in the accreditation process for voters, collation of results and in the general conduct of elections.
“Please be assured that these innovations are intended to deepen the Electoral Process in our country and their optimal performance in the just concluded governorship election in Ekiti and Osun States is an eloquent testimony to their electoral value. We shall only do more to consolidate their deployment in our election.
“Once again, I wish to assure you that INEC has no preferred party or candidate. We shall only ensure that all valid votes count and the winners are decided solely by the voters,” he assured.
On the lecture, the commission’s boss said: “I hold a conviction that the discussions would be robust and engaging and that party chairmen and members present would be committed to ensuring that the 2023 general election would be devoid of deliberate infractions to the 2022 Electoral Act essentially by allowing the electoral process to run smoothly thereby growing a rich democratic culture and acceptable election outcome.
“INEC will scrupulously apply the laws without fear of favour to ensure a free, fair, credible, inclusive and transparent election come February 2023. Please, I urge you all to listen attentively to our quest lecturer. Thank you and God Bless us all,” he said.