By Joy Odor
The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu has affirmed that it is more than prepared to conduct the 2023 general elections as 50% of election materials needed to conduct the election next year have already been deployed across the country.
He also informed that the Commission has already gone far in training ad hoc staff and would deploy four officials in each Polling Unit (PU) on election days.
Professor Yakubu gave the affirmation in his speech during the visit by the Africa Union (AU) Special Pre-Electoral Political Mission to the Commission led by Phumzile Mlambo- Ngcuka, a member of the Panel of the Wise and former Deputy President of South Africa in Abuja on Monday.
The INEC Chairman maintained that the use of technology in the conduct of next year’s general election by the Commission is sacrosanct, stressing INEC is in a more comfortable position in the disbursement of funds, however expressed worry over the attacks on its facilities.
“On the 2023 general election, we are using technology like Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS), we have used it to conduct the elections in 105 constituencies and some off-circle Governorship Elections and BVAS worked optimally especially in Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections”.
“In fact, from August 2020 to July 2022 we have used BVAS and iREV and it worked perfectly well. I must say that the use of the technological devices have come to stay and there is no going back on their use in the 2023 general election”, he said.
Professor Yakubu reminder Nigerians that the vicious attacks on INEC offices across the country would not deter it from conducting a free, fair, credible and inclusive elections in 2023, using technology as allowed by the Electoral Act 2022 and INEC legal framework.
“It’s true that security is an issue especially as in the last three months our offices in Osun and Ogun states and over the weekend in the South East part of the country was attacked but it will not deter the Commission from going ahead with the elections using technology like BVAS for the purpose of accreditation as allowed by the Electoral Act 2022 and the uploading of the election results real-time using iREV”.
“Conducting elections in Nigeria is not an easy task. Each time Nigerians goes to the polls, it’s like four African countries put together are going to the polls. This is because of our large population and the larger number of political parties and candidates participating in the elections” he noted.
The INEC boss expressed the Commission appreciation for a long standing corporation between AU and INEC, saying the Commission benefited from the observations of the International Observers under the Election Observation Mission in the past.
Earlier, the leader of the AU Special Pre- Electoral Political Mission, Mlambo-Ngcuka said their visit to Abuja is to have a first hand knowledge of the preparedness of INEC for the 2023 general election.
She said the visit was to ascertain INEC’s level of preparedness for the conduct of the general elections including financial and the roles of civil society, women, young people and persons with disabilities in the preparation of the polls.
“Our mission here (INEC) is to hear from you how you are preparing for this exciting general election. You want to share with us how prepared you are for the elections, if you are adequately supported and whether you have the means to deliver a free and fair elections in 2023. This is our mission here” she said.
The Africa Union pledged its support to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to ensure the conduct of free, fair and credible election next year.