The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Nigeria, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has announced the commission’s readiness to conduct the upcoming off-cycle Governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi states. The elections are set to take place on November 11, 2023.
This historical event will mark the first time the Commission is conducting three Governorship elections simultaneously in different geopolitical zones. According to Prof. Yakubu, this has been made possible due to the alignment of the end of tenure of the current office holders with the constitutional timeframe.
During a quarterly consultative meeting with political parties, Prof. Yakubu stated that the Commission is at the concluding stages of its preparations, with all non-sensitive materials for the elections delivered to the three states.
The training of various categories of ad hoc staff is currently ongoing, and soft copies of the complete register of voters have been made available to all participating political parties. The commission has also conducted a mock accreditation of voters and the upload of results to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal.
Prof. Yakubu revealed that political parties have uploaded the names of their polling and collation agents to a dedicated web portal, with a total of 137,934 agents being registered so far. He urged all parties to consider the submission of agent names as important as the nomination of election candidates.
However, the Commission has expressed concern about the recent court orders regarding nomination, substitution, or disqualification of candidates after sensitive materials have been printed. This issue not only increases expense but also makes the process management challenging.
The Elections’ Chairman also called for peace during electioneering campaigns and on election day, expressing concern over the recent spate of violence involving parties and candidates in the three states. In his response, the Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) Yabagi Sani called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to address the issue of confidence deficit among citizens following the outcome of the 2023 national elections.
He however praised INEC for its efforts in promoting transparency and political party engagement in the electoral process.
However, he further challenged INEC to work diligently in persuading security agencies to play by the rules of engagement and resist the temptation of being used by desperate politicians. He also stressed the importance of citizens feeling secure in their participation in the electoral process, particularly in light of the precarious state of insecurity in the country and in the three states where off-season elections are scheduled for November 11, 2023.
Furthermore, Sani emphasized the need for timely and secure delivery of both sensitive and non-sensitive electoral materials to the states to avoid suspicion and undermine the credibility of the entire election. He called on all stakeholders involved in the electoral process to uphold the tenets of democracy and work towards ensuring that the voice of the people is heard and respected through the ballot box.