NEC to release 2023 elections timetable after assent to Electoral Act Bill

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday said it will quickly release the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 general election as soon as the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is signed into law.

The Bill, which was denied assent by President Muhammadu Buhari late last year on the grounds of the mandatory direct primary election for the nomination of candidates as parties candidates will be reintroduced legislative action by the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu in his address at the first quarterly meeting with political parties in Abuja on Tuesday said the Commission looks forward to a speedy passage of the Bill, which is crucial to its preparations for future elections. Yakubu noted that the year 2022 is going to be a very busy year for the Commission and the political parties as the 2023 general election is just 396 days away, saying all the critical preparations must be concluded this year.

“The Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) which commenced in June last year has entered the third quarter. As of yesterday Monday 17th January 2022, a total of 8,260,076 eligible Nigerians commenced the online pre-registration, completed the registration physically, or applied for a transfer to new voting locations, replacement of their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs), or updated their voter information records as required by law.

“The Commission has been publishing weekly progress reports of the exercise. We are aware that Nigerians want to know when their PVCs will be available for collection. At the moment, the Commission is undertaking the most comprehensive cleaning up of the data to ensure that only eligible citizens are added to the voters’ register for the 2023 General Election and will share our findings with Nigerians and the actual dates for the collection of the PVCs nationwide will be announced very soon.

“I want to request that you continue to encourage eligible voters who have not registered to do so, bearing in mind that those who had registered at any time previously need not register again. Also, encourage voters who wish to transfer from their present Polling Units to new ones created as part of the Commission’s expansion of voter access polling units to do so immediately,” he said.

The INEC Chairman disclosed that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) will be deployed in the February 12 Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Councils elections which is the second major election after the Anambra Governorship election held in November last year. He said the same technology will be deployed in all forthcoming bye-elections across the country, adding that for all elections going forward, Polling Unit results will be uploaded in real-time to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal.

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In his remarks, Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Yabagi Sani called on the National Assembly to immediately expunge from the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, the provisions that make it mandatory for political parties to use direct primary elections in the selection of their flag bearers in general elections.

Sani also called on President Buhari to assent to the Bill without delay after the necessary legislative action, saying failure to reach a compromise in the short run may invariably translate into the death of the other very crucial provisions, such as the provisions on the Electronic Transmission of election results.

“As it is, compromise and shifting of grounds in respect of the Bill by the two arms of government, incidentally controlled by the same political party, the APC, should not ideally, be too cumbersome a task to accomplish.

“In their review of the Bill before passage for presidential assent, the IPAC is further suggesting that the National Assembly should seize the opportunity to look into the various aspects of the statute to ensure the eradication of grey areas on the basis of which the President had withheld his assent in the 2019 attempt at its amendment by the National Assembly,” he said.