INEC Set for November Guber Polls 

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it is ready to conduct the 11 November 2023 off-cycle gubernatorial election in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States.

The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, addressing a meeting between the commission and leaders of political parties in Nigeria on Tuesday, said all crucial elements of the election were being concluded in compliance with Section 178(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

READ MORE: INEC Delivers Non-sensitive Materials to Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa States 

Prof. Mahmood announced that the commission has delivered all non-sensitive materials for the elections to the three states, while the training of various categories of ad hoc staff is ongoing.

“We have made the soft copies of the complete register of voters available to all political parties participating in the elections.

“We conducted the mock accreditation of voters and the upload of results to our IReV portal using the BVAS.

“Stakeholder engagements are ongoing. Our State offices have concluded the readiness assessment of our facilities as well as the movement of critical facilities to our 56 local government offices across the three states,” said Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.

The INEC chairman informed the meeting that a total of 137,934 agents made up of 130,093 polling and 7,841 collation agents have already been uploaded to the portal. He, however, pointed out that not all the political parties have nominated agents for all the polling units and even the collation centres in the three states.

“In the next few days, the Commission will publish the detailed distribution of agents uploaded by all political parties for public information. I urge you to consider the submission of names of agents as important as the nomination of candidates for election,” he urged.

Prof. Yakubu assured that the printing of agents’ identity cards will be completed this weekend. This, he noted, would allow political parties ample time to distribute the cards to their agents, pointing out that all the identity cards were QR Code-readable to ensure maximum security and to avoid impersonation by unaccredited persons.

Meanwhile, Prof. Mahmood has expressed concern about the spate of recent judgements and orders of court in respect of nomination, substitution or disqualification of candidates, after all the sensitive materials have been printed. He regretted that four recent court orders had compelled the commission to review the final list of candidates for the three states, even after publication:

“The reprinting of the materials in compliance with court orders within a short period of time is not only expensive but the management of the process very challenging.

“Although the commission has already published the final list of candidates for the three states, four recent court orders have compelled us to review the list. These changes have been reflected in the updated list of parties and candidates on our website.

“However, this decision is without prejudice to any pending appeal by the affected candidates or their political parties.”

 

Violence Among Political Parties 

The INEC chairman condemned the spate of violence involving political parties and candidates in the three states as electioneering campaigns continue to intensify.

He reminded party leaders that free and fair elections are only possible in an atmosphere of peace:

“Election is a process involving human beings as voters, election officials, observers and the media whose safety is of paramount concern to us.

“While we will continue to work with the security agencies in this regard, political parties acting individually or collectively through the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) also have an obligation to impress on your members, candidates and supporters to maintain peace during the campaign rallies and procession.

“I urge you to also appeal to them to maintain the same disposition on election day and beyond.”

The National Chairman, Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC), Yabagi Sani, speaking on behalf of political parties, called on the INEC to seize the opportunity of the elections to deal with the issue of confidence deficit among the citizenry, following the outcome of the 2023 national elections, which he said were characterized with challenges and controversies, leading to enormous challenges in electoral processes.

Mr. Yabagi Sani, the National Chairman, Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC).

 

He called on the INEC, as the custodian of Nigeria’s democracy, to reaffirm citizens’ confidence and continue to demonstrate impartiality, transparency, and a commitment to conducting free, fair, and credible elections, saying it is not only a moral imperative but also a necessary step towards preserving the integrity of the country’s democratic system.

“There is no doubt that INEC is showing its best efforts in its preparations in spite of obvious encumbrances.

“However, a lot more needs to be done to ensure that elections in Nigeria are hitch-free, credible and substantially comply with the provisions of the controversial 2022 Electoral Act.

“Furthermore, I challenge INEC to work diligently in persuading our security agencies to play by the rules of engagement and resist the temptation of being used by desperate politicians.

“The involvement of security agencies in the electoral process, when it becomes unavailable, must be based on professionalism, neutrality, and a commitment to the defense of our democracy, rather than partisan interests,” he added.

 

IPAC Situation Room

The IPAC national chairman also said that the council had set up a Situation Room powered by Election Results Management System (ERMS). This, he said, would guarantee effective monitoring and control of the activities of political parties and other stakeholders in the handling of the election results from the polling units, collation centres up to the declaration of results by the INEC, in line with the 2022 Electoral Act.

“The IPAC Situation Room will also complement current efforts by the INEC to provide political parties certified Form EC8A, copies of which are also pasted by INEC on the walls at the polling stations.

The IPAC initiative will also be of great pre-election value to enhance cost-effective operations. It would collate election results quickly from INEC-certified Form EC8As from all Polling Units.

“And it would be of enormous post-election value in producing scientifically irrefutable documents for use at the tribunals, all within the 28-day window allowed by the new rules,” he added.

 

Centenary Celebration of Political Parties 

Yabagi Sani mentioned that the Inter-party Advisory Council will host a historic centenary celebration of the existence of political parties in the country, political activism, development, and institutionalization of democracy in Nigeria. He traced the roots of politics to the founding of the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) in 1923 by Hebert Macaulay in collaboration with other eminent Nigerians, following the Clifford’s Constitution of 1922.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is holding a number of consultations with critical stakeholders ahead of the 11 November 2023 governorship elections in Kogi, Imo, and Bayelsa States to ensure a successful, free, fair and credible election.

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