Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has stated that the commission is not considering any changes to the election schedule, let alone postponing the 2023 general election.
Yakubu stated this during the presentation of an electronic copy of the 93,469,008 voter register to political party leaders in Abuja on Wednesday.
He stated that the commission was better prepared for the 2023 general elections than ever before and that 11 of the 14 election-related activities had been completed successfully.
“Already, substantial quantities of sensitive and non-sensitive materials have been deployed to various locations across the country. The last batch of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) has been received while the ongoing configuration of the critical technology in readiness for elections will soon be completed.
“In the last two days, we commenced the airlifting of other sensitive materials to States across the country. Already, some of the materials for 17 States in three geo-political zones have been delivered.
“Furthermore, 13,868,441 Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) have been printed, delivered to States and are being collected by citizens as new voters or by existing voters who applied for transfer or replacement of cards as provided by law.
“In short, at no time in the recent history of the Commission has so much of the forward planning and implementation been accomplished 44 days ahead of a General Election. Therefore, the commission is not contemplating any adjustment to the election timetable, let alone the postponement of the General Election.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, while Governorship and State Assembly elections will hold two weeks later on Saturday, March 11, 2023.
“The repeated assurance by the security agencies for the adequate protection of our personnel, materials and processes also reinforces our determination to proceed. The 2023 General Election will hold as scheduled. Any report to the contrary is not the official position of the Commission.’’
Yakubu stated that the preliminary register voters were 93,522,272 after cleaning up the data from the last Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) from June 2021 to July 2022, when 9,518,188 new voters were added to the existing 84,004,084 voters.
When the register was presented to Nigerians for claims and objections, as required by law, he said, INEC received 53,264 objections from Nigerians to the presence of ineligible people on the register due to age, citizenship, or death, which were verified and removed from the register.
“Consequently, the register of voters for the 2023 General Election stands at 93,469,008. Of this cumulative figure, 49,054,162 (52.5 per cent) are male while 44,414,846 (47.5 per cent) are female.
“The distribution by age group shows that 37,060,399 (39.65 per cent ) are youth between the ages of 18 and 34; 33,413,591 (35.75 per cent ) are middle-aged persons between the ages of 35 and 49; 17,700,270 (18.94 per cent ) are elderly voters between the ages of 50 and 69 while 5,294,748 (5.66%) are senior citizens aged 70 and above.
“In terms of occupational distribution, students constitute the largest category with 26,027,481 (27.8%) of all voters, followed by 14,742,554 (15.8 per cent ) Farmers/Fishermen and 13,006,939 (13.9 per cent) housewives.
“The data on disability was not collected for previous registration. However, the cumulative figure of 85,362 persons from the recent CVR indicates that there are 21,150 (24.5 per cent ) persons with Albinism; 13,387 (15.7 per cent ) with physical impediment and 8,103 (9.5 per cent) are blind.”
Yakubu stated that the breakdown and analysis would be uploaded to the INEC website and social media platforms soon.
He reaffirmed INEC’s commitment to a transparent, credible, and inclusive 2023 General Election, stating that INEC would continue to take all necessary steps to protect the sanctity of citizens’ votes and deal with infractions.
According to Yakubu, this includes arresting and prosecuting individuals who attempt to perpetuate illegality at Polling Units on Election Day, whether they are underage voters or vote buyers.
Yakubu stated that PVCs could be collected at any of the 8,809 Registration Areas/Wards across the country by sending a short text message to any of the two dedicated telephone lines.
In his response, IPAC Chairman Yabagi Sani praised INEC’s efforts to ensure that power is transferred peacefully in the country, despite challenges and plots by anti-democratic agents to sabotage the process.
Sani, who was represented by IPAC General Secretary Yusuf Dantalle, stated that political parties were determined to support INEC, security agencies, and traditional rulers in order for the 2023 general election to be held peacefully.
He stated that party leaders were confident in INEC election technology, including BVAS and IReV for electronic transmission of results. Sani stated that the use of the technology would discourage vote buying and situations in which people write election results from their rooms and ask INEC officials to declare them so that people could go to court.
“It makes evidence that so many efforts are in place to ensure that this did not work but we are equally appealing to political party leaders in the country to see that power belongs to God and He gives it to whoever He will.
“We will try the best we can, but we political leaders must the country forward. We do not under intense pressure as if we don’t want this democracy or this election will not succeed.’’