Less than three weeks to the governorship elections in Kogi, Bayelsa, and Imo States, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu have cried out over the spate of violence in the three states, warning that conduct of elections in a violent atmosphere cannot achieve positive results. “Free and fair elections are only possible in an atmosphere of peace”, he warned.
He made this warning in his remarks at the quarterly consultative meeting with political parties which held at the headquarters of INEC in Abuja.
Prof Yakubu also expressed concern of the recent court judgments where candidates presented by parties has to be changed less than two weeks to the election due to litigations that favors persons hitherto presented and already registered on INEC platforms. “The Commission is concerned about the spate of recent judgements and orders of court in respect of the nomination, substitution or disqualification of candidates after all the sensitive materials have been printed. 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, he said.
According to the Chairman, INEC has already registered137,934 polling and collation agents made up of 130,093 polling and 7,841 collation agents. He urged political parties who are yet to submit the names of their agents to do so.
Below is the full statement of the chairman:
REMARKS BY THE CHAIRMAN, INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC), PROF. MAHMOOD YAKUBU, AT THE QUARTERLY CONSULTATIVE MEETING WITH POLITICAL PARTIES HELD AT THE INEC CONFERENCE ROOM, ABUJA, ON TUESDAY 24TH OCTOBER 2023
The Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC)
Chairmen and Leaders of Political Parties
The Secretary to the Commission
Other Senior Officials of the Commission
Members of the INEC Press Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me first of all welcome the Chairmen and other leaders of political parties to our regular quarterly consultative meeting. Since our last meeting in July this year, there have been changes to the leadership of some political parties. It is therefore my pleasure to especially welcome the Chairmen of political parties who are attending this meeting for the first time in substantive or acting capacities.
You may recall that at our last meeting, we reviewed the conduct of the 2023 General Election as part of the wider consultation with stakeholders. I am glad to report that we are finalizing the review report as well as the main report of the General Election. As soon as they are finalized, we will, as usual, share the reports with you, other stakeholders and the public.
Today, the subject matter of our meeting is the ongoing preparations for the three off-cycle Governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States scheduled to hold on Saturday 11th November 2023. With just a little over two weeks to the election, we are at the concluding stages of our preparations. This is the first time that the Commission will be conducting three off-cycle Governorship elections simultaneously across different geo-political zones. This is made possible by the coincidence of the end of tenure of the current holders of the offices which fall within the constitutional timeframe of not earlier than 150 days or later than 30 days before the expiration of their terms of office as enshrined in Section 178(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
The Commission has delivered all non-sensitive materials for the elections to the three States. 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.
At the same time, political parties have uploaded the names of their polling and collation agents to the dedicated web portal. As I informed Nigerians at the meeting with our Resident Electoral Commissions (RECs) last week, a total of 137,934 agents made up of 130,093 polling and 7,841 collation agents have already been uploaded to the portal. However, not all the political parties have nominated agents for all the polling units and even the collation centers 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.
I am glad to report that the printing of agents’ identity cards will be completed this weekend. This will allow political parties ample time to distribute the cards to their agents. All the identity cards are QR Code-readable to ensure maximum security and to avoid impersonation by non accredited persons.
On the issue of candidature, the Commission is concerned about the spate of recent judgements and orders of court in respect of the nomination, substitution or disqualification of candidates after all the sensitive materials have been printed. 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 is 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.
As electioneering campaigns continue to intensify, the Commission reiterates its concern about the spate of violence in the three States involving parties and candidates. I wish to remind you as party leaders that free and fair elections are only possible in an atmosphere of peace. After all, elections are 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 their 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.
On this note, I wish to welcome you once again to this meeting as we proceed into the working session.
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