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REMARKS BY THE CHAIRMAN, INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC), PROFESSOR MAHMOOD YAKUBU, AT A MEETING WITH THE VISITING TEAM OF THE AFRICAN UNION (AU) ON THE PREPARATIONS FOR THE 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS, INEC CONFERENCE ROOM, ABUJA, THURSDAY 25THOCTOBER 2018
- I am exceptionally delighted to welcome the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, His Excellency Moussa Faki Mahaman, to the Commission. On behalf of INEC, let me welcome you and members of your delegation as you embark on this very important mission of assessing the preparations of the Commission for the 2019 General Elections. We appreciate your commitment to democracy and good governance in Africa as Chairman and later President of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the AU, Minister and later Prime Minister of the Republic of Chad and now the Chairperson of the AU Commission. We welcome you and your delegation to INEC.
- Your visit is coming exactly 113 days to the elections in Nigeria scheduled for Saturday 16thFebruary 2019. We welcome your mission to Nigeria and appreciate your active involvement in election observation in Nigeria. We recall with delight that the AU sent one of the largest election observation missions for the 2015 General Elections made up of 84 observers led by the former interim President of the Republic of Liberia, His Excellency Professor Amos Sawyer. INEC has studied both the interim and full reports of the AU Election observation mission and we are delighted by your overall positive recommendations.
- We wish to assure you that INEC has and will continue to improve on the conduct of elections in Nigeria. For instance, we have taken into considerations some of your observations and recommendations directed to INEC in planning for the 2019 General Elections. Specifically, you recommended that INEC should improve on the overall planning and implementation of electoral operations with regard to voter registration and the issuance of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs). In response, and for the first time in the history of elections in Nigeria, INEC conducted the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) from 27thApril 2017 to 31stAugust 2018 during which some 14.5 million new voters were registered in addition to about 70 million voters registered before the 2015 General Elections. This brings the total number of registered voters in Nigeria today to well over 84 million. We have also systematically printed and made available the PVCs for collection by citizens in batches well ahead of the 2019 General Election. The last batch of the PVC will be available for collection in early December and collection will continue until at least one week to the 2019 General Elections. We are finalizing a new strategic approach to the collection of PVCs by registered voters and wish to reassure all new registrants as well as those who applied for transfers and relocation or the replacement of their cards that their PVCs will be available for collection ahead of the General Elections.
- The second observation raised by the AU, which is related to the first one, is the review of the Election Day procedures to make them less cumbersome for voters by re-examining the system of separate accreditation and voting. I am happy to report that this has been implemented. Since the Governorship election in Bayelsa State in December 2015, we have been conducting simultaneous accreditation and voting.
- We have similarly responded to other recommendations that require amendment to the legal framework by working closely with the National Assembly. Only this week, the National Assembly passed a bill amending the Electoral Act in addition to the alteration of five (5) sections of the Constitution dealing with elections.
- Once again, I welcome you INEC and look forward to detailed discussions on our preparations for the 2019 General Elections as well as your further observations on how to strengthen our electoral process.
- Thank you.