By Nathaniel Gana
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has expressed optimism that despite genuine concerns over insecurity in many parts of the country, there is still enough time to address the concerns ahead of the 2023 General Election.
Prof. Yakubu made the remark at the Expert Meeting on Conducting Elections in Volatile Security Environment, organised the by Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in collaboration with INEC held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, on Thursday 1stSeptember.
The event had in attendance representatives of the various security agencies who make up the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), INEC National Commissioners the Chairman’s Technical team and members of the civil society.
While commending the CDD for putting the event together, Prof. Yakubu said, “by bringing together experts, senior security officials and the INEC leadership to share experience and discuss security concerns ahead of the 2023 General Election, CDD hopes to kickstart further collaborative engagements among stakeholders around the security challenges ahead of the election.
“I have no doubt in my mind that today’s meeting meets the twin tests of relevance and timeliness. The meeting is relevant because of the volatile security situation in some parts of the country and its implications on the forthcoming elections. It is timely because the election is fast approaching but there is still time to address the security concerns ahead of the election.”
The INEC Chairman added: “I believe that arising from the shared experiences of participants at this meeting, specific recommendations will be made to further enrich our understanding of the security issues in the forthcoming election, the various dimensions of the challenges and, most importantly, possible measures to respond to them to ensure that elections are held peacefully nationwide as required by law”.
He recalled that “only recently, the office of the Inspector General of Police organised a nationwide capacity-building for police personnel on election security. The Police was not only motivated by the same concern of ensuring a secure environment for the election but also enhancing the professionalism of police personnel on election duty”.
Prof. Yakubu further explained that activities toward the 2023 General Election would enter the critical stages this month. He said in the next 19 days, on Sept. 20, the Commission would publish the final list of candidates for national elections – Presidential, Senatorial and House of Representatives – as provided in Sec. 32(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 and the Timetable and Schedule of Activities released by the Commission.
“This will be followed on 4th October 2022 by the publication of the final list of candidates for State elections (Governorship and State Houses of Assembly). Campaign in public by political parties will officially commence on 28th September 2022 as provided by Sec. 94(1) of the Electoral Act 2022.
He added: “As campaigns commence, we appeal to all political parties and candidates to focus on issue-based campaigns. This is the best way to complement our efforts to ensure transparent elections in which only the votes cast by citizens determine the winner.”