INEC News Wed Aug 16, 2017.
Nine new Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) who were today sworn in at the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC’s) headquarters have been told to immediately key into the Commission’s preparations for the 2019 general elections.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who spoke at the impressive ceremony witnessed by National Commissioners and family members of the new appointees, said there were only 548 days to the Presidential and National Assembly elections fixed for 16th February, 2019.
He also announced the registration of the African People’s Party (APP) following a court order, bringing the total number of registered political parties in Nigeria to 46.
Besides, he revealed that no fewer than 2,092,434 new voters have so far registered since the commencement of the nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise in April this year. The figure is made up of the 1,810,153 that were captured in the first quarter, and 282,281 others that have so far registered since the second quarter began.
Prof Yakubu told the RECs: “I congratulate you on your appointment. At the same time, I wish to draw your attention to the task ahead. As you are already aware, the Commission has fixed the date for the next General Elections. The Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on Saturday 16th February 2019 while Governorship, State Assembly and Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) will hold two weeks later on Saturday 2nd March 2019. It means that from today, we have exactly 548 days to the General Elections. It is important to always remind yourselves of this date and to be tracking and appraising our preparations.”
He continued: “You are coming at a very auspicious time. I wish to reiterate our commitment to Nigerians that the 2019 General Elections will be a remarkable improvement on the acclaimed success of the last General Elections. Going by the outcome of recent elections conducted by INEC, it is clear that votes count and will continue to be the sole determinant of the outcome of elections. We shall continue to uphold the sanctity of citizens’ choice as the only basis for determining elective representation in Nigeria”
According to him, the new RECs will be responsible for implementing the Commission’s 2017 – 2021 Strategic Plan and exercise supervisory control over personnel, resources, legal and administrative processes in their respective states. “You are fortunate to assume duty just after the conclusion of the Commission’s Strategic Plan 2017-2021,” he averred, adding, “in terms of strategic planning, we are prepared for 2019. We are already taking practical steps towards actualising the Strategic Plan. The complimentary document, the Election Project Plan, is almost ready. Very soon, the Election Management System that will enable us track activities almost on daily basis will be ready.”
The INEC helmsman noted that as election managers, the RECs must maintain the required openness and consultation. According to him, while they will be expected to interact with various stakeholders, including partisan actors, they must also be “very firm and courageous on the side of law as well as our regulations and guidelines as required of you as unbiased umpire.”
On the on-going nationwide CVR exercise, Prof. Yakubu said: “For the first time in the history of the Commission, citizens who have attained the age of 18 years and those who could not register before the last General Election now have the opportunity to do so on a continuous basis as envisaged by the Electoral Act. The exercise is conducted at the Local Government level on quarterly basis. At the end of the first quarter of the exercise, some 1,810,153 citizens were registered. The exercise is now in the second week of the second quarter and already, some 282,281 citizens have been registered, making a total of 2,092,434 new registrants so far.
“In Anambra State in particular, the registration has been devolved to Ward level in view of the forthcoming Governorship election consistent with the Commission’s practice. As part of the Commission’s continuing improvement of the electoral process, we have introduced a new innovation in voter registration in Anambra State, which will, in due course, be extended nationwide using our newly acquired Direct Data Capturing Machines (DDCMs). Data is now collected on Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) categorised by gender and type of disability. This will help us in planning access to polling units and such other support on election day as persons with special needs and advocates of more inclusiveness in our democracy have demanded of the Commission for sometime.”
Prof Yakubu assured Nigerians of the Commission’s determination to continue to discharge its responsibilities “conscientiously according to the law.” He announced that the Commission on Friday 11th August received a petition for the recall of the member representing Bebeji Constituency in the Kano State House of Assembly. “We have since written the petitioners’ representatives acknowledging receipt of the petition (and) we have also informed the member concerned of the petition. In line with our guidelines, the timetable and schedule of activities for the recall will be released on Monday next week.”
He expressed appreciation to the continuing support extended by the National Assembly, political parties, the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security, Civil Society organisations and the media to the Commission. “He said: “This level of support gives us confidence that INEC and all stakeholders are on the same page in the collective responsibility of consolidating our democracy.”
The nine new RECs will join their 14 colleagues that were sworn in on 7th July, bringing the total number to 23.