he independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says a speedy passage of the Electoral Amendment Bill, currently before the National Assembly, was crucial to its preparations for future elections, including the 2023 general elections.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made this disclosure at the commission’s first quarterly meeting with political parties for the year 2022, on Tuesday, in Abuja.
Yakubu said that INEC was looking forward to the passage to release its timetable for the 2023 general elections.
He said that the passage of the act was crucial for INEC: “On the Electoral Amendment Bill currently before the National Assembly, the Commission is encouraged by the Senate President’s assurance to give priority attention to the Bill, when the National Assembly reconvenes from its recess today.
“We are also encouraged by the commitment of the President to assent to the Bill as soon as the issue of mode of primaries by political parties is resolved.
“We look forward to a speedy passage of the Bill, which is crucial to our preparations for future elections.
“As soon as it is signed into law, the commission will quickly release the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 General Elections, based on the new law,’’ Yakubu said.
Yakubu said further that the year 2022 was going to be a very busy year for the commission and the political parties, as the 2023 general election was just 396 days away and all the critical preparations must be concluded in 2022.
He disclosed that as at Monday, Jan. 17 a total of 8,260,076 eligible Nigerians commenced the online pre-registration, completed the registration physically in the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).
Yakubu said that the figure also included voters who applied for transfer to new voting locations, replacement of their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) or updated their voter information records as required by law.
The CVR, which commenced in June 2021, has entered the third quarter.
The INEC chairman said that: “ at the moment, the commission is undertaking the most comprehensive cleaning of the data, to ensure that only eligible citizens were added to the voters’ register for the 2023 general election.
“We will share our findings with Nigerians and the actual dates for the collection of the PVCs nationwide, will be announced very soon.
“I want to request that you continue to encourage eligible voters who have not registered to do so, bearing in mind that those who had registered at any time previously need not register again.
“Also, encourage voters who wish to transfer from their present Polling Units to new ones created, as part of the commission’s expansion of voter access polling units, to do so immediately,’’
In his remarks, National Chairman, Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) Mr Yabagi Sani, urged INEC to take measures to rectify observed lapses in the Nov. 2021 governorship election in Anambra state.
Sani stressed the need for upgrading the level of the diligence and proficiency of both INEC permanent and ad hoc personnel on election duties, by way of training, refresher courses and re-orientation.
He also called for a more robust deployment of logistics and greater performance in the distribution of vital election materials.
He also called on the executive and judicial arms of government to consider adequate appropriation and funding of INEC, more seriously.
“We are making this appeal for a more realistic funding of INEC against the backdrop of the humongous reduction in the budgetary allocation to the agency, in the recently passed 2022 Appropriation Act.
“This, in our view, did not reflect the demands of a robust and timely preparations for the 2023 general elections.
“Beside the significance of ensuring the success of the newly introduced digital gadgets and reforms, the relevant authorities must take into cognisance the challenges posed by the prevailing and pervading atmosphere of insecurity in the country, which may not significantly abate before the historic elections,’’ Sani said.
He also called on the National Assembly to immediately address controversial areas in the 2021 Electoral (Amendment) Bill, while also appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to thereafter, assent to the Bill without delay.
Sani commended series of new strategies and internal restructuring in the administrative machinery of INEC as well as the use of innovations and application of science and technology to enhance Nigeria’s democracy.
Sani expressed the hope that the standards of performance by INEC would not only be sustained, but further perfected and improved upon for greater degrees of success in its conduct of future elections, especially in Ekiti, Osun and the FCT.