2023: INEC says election must hold, IGP concurs
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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said it would deploy no fewer than one million electoral officials, including permanent and ad-hoc staff, for next year’s general elections to man 176,846 polling units across the country.
INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu spoke at the Public Presentation of the 2022-2026 Strategic Plan (SP) and the 2023 Election Project Plan (EPP) in Abuja. He said Nigeria’s elections were getting better, electoral outcomes less contentious and voter experience increasingly more participatory and inclusive.
He said the general election would be conducted for 1,491 constituencies nationwide, consisting of one presidential constituency, 109 senatorial districts, 360 federal constituencies, 28 governorship elections and 993 state constituencies.
“The election will involve an estimated one million electoral officials (both permanent and temporary or ad hoc staff) deployed to 176,846 polling units in 8,809 wards and 774 local government areas across the country.
“The election will be governed by a new Electoral Act 2022, which contains many progressive provisions that will enhance the capacity of the commission to conduct elections and manage the electoral process better,” he said.
Mahmoud announced that the dates for all activities in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election ”are firm and fixed”.
The INEC chairman said the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise will end on June 30, while emphasizing that the Permanent Voter Card (PVC) does not expire.
Yakubu said, “All eligible voters that are yet to register are advised to do so on or before that date if they intend to vote.
“Furthermore, the PVCs of validly registered voters from the first and second quarters are already available for collection at designated centres nationwide.
“I would like to appeal to all Nigerians who registered between June and December 2021 to collect their PVCs in person as no PVCs will be collected by proxy.
“Let me also reassure those who registered between January and March 2022 as well as those who are doing so until the end of the exercise that their PVCs will be ready for collection long before the 2023 General Election.
“For emphasis, the Commission once again reiterates that PVCs have no expiry dates.
“We want to assure all registered voters that PVCs issued by the Commission remain valid for all elections.
“We have encouraged those who lost their voters cards or whose cards are damaged to approach any of the registration centres to apply for a replacement.
“Similarly, voters who had issues with their accreditation in previous elections have been encouraged to revalidate and update their information.
“In addition, those who wish to transfer their registration from one location to another within a particular state or to relocate entirely to another state of the federation can do so at any of the registration centres nationwide.
“These steps are in compliance with the law in order to serve Nigerians better.
“The claim that PVCs expire is misleading. Citizens are therefore advised not to register more than once as multiple registrations is an offence under the Electoral Act.
“Anyone engaged in the act of double or multiple registrations is liable to prosecution. No citizen should engage in it or encourage others to violate the law”.
“We will continue to engage early and intensely with the security agencies to ensure the safety of our personnel and materials, accredited observers and the media and, above all, the voters.
“Clearly, these are challenging times but we are determined that election must hold in 2023,” Yakubu said.
Also yesterday, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, said security agencies would ensure that the 2023 elections timetable was not disrupted. The IGP, who spoke with reporters after the National Security Council meeting at the Presidential Villa Abuja, also said the Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections would be safe.
“We are assessing the security situation and we are hopeful and we believe the narrative will change for the better in terms of securing the country, to enable us to conduct the general elections and even the staggered elections. Efforts are being made.
“I am aware INEC has expressed its fears and so forth. But we are also working towards changing the narrative within the quickest possible means to ensure that the national timetable on election duties is adhered to by our combined efforts to bring sanity and create a level playing ground for all members of the public to exercise their franchise,” the IG said.