The year 2022 will be a busy and challenging one for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Festus Okoye, the national commissioner, Information and Voter Education, IVEC, stated this in Asaba, Delta State, on Monday, January 24, 2022 while delivering a keynote address at a Capacity Building Workshop for Heads of Voter Education and Publicity and Public Affairs of the commission from 17 of the country’s 36 states.
Okoye said; “The year 2022 will be busy and challenging for the commission. It will present complex realities and showcase the complexities of our democracy and electoral process. In the year 2022, the commission will release the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 general election. The Commission will give the statutory notice signifying the date of election and the place for the submission of nominations.
“The Timetable and Schedule of Activities will contain the period for the commencement of campaigns and rallies in public by Political Parties and the last day of campaigns by Political Parties. It will contain the period for party primaries and submission of names of nominated candidates and resolution of issues and challenges arising from party primaries. It will contain the period for the submission of personal particulars of candidates, withdrawal, and the replacement of candidates and publication of the final list of candidates. It will contain the period for the submission of the names of Poll Agents. It will set out the period for the publication of official register of voters.”
Concerning the 2023 poll and election date as well as the issues and challenges, Okoye had this to say: “At the operational and administrative level, the Commission will monitor the Congresses, Conventions, Meetings, and Primaries of the Political Parties. The Commission must track campaign spending and finances of Political Parties. The Commission will procure sensitive and non-sensitive materials and deploy them as at and when due. The Commission must identity, harvest, and recruit ad-hoc staff and various categories of collation and returning officers. The Commission must identify, prepare and equip Registration Area Centers, Collation Centers, and other Centers for various and variegated activities. The Commission will hire vehicles, boats, and motorcycles and engage human carriers for the movement of personnel, materials, and reverse logistics. The Commission must train and assist in the deployment of security personnel on election duty. The Commission must also defend pre and post-election litigations and petitions.”
Highlighting other challenges, the IVEC said: “The year 2022 is the year of preparation for bye-elections, off cycle elections, and the 2023 general election. Most of the important events in the electoral calendar will take place this year. Political Parties, Aspirants, Candidates, and their Supporters will position to gain advantage. Some of them will attribute their problems and challenges to the Commission. They will praise the Commission when they win and denigrate the Commission when they lose. Some of them will analyze every action of the Commission and our press releases and comments may be tendered in court and become objects of litigation.
“Some of the critical stakeholders may misunderstand some of our actions, processes, and procedures and read different meaning into well-intentioned processes and procedures. It is our responsibility to provide clarity and dispel negative notions and insinuations with potentially damaging impact on the electoral process. Some persons may go to the extent of planting negative stories about the Commission and in the process attempt to drag the Commission into a mud fight. Some people may by acts of commission or omission portray the Commission in bad light. It is our responsibility to remain firm, focused, courageous, and engaging. The Commission is a public trust and must be open and transparent. We must on no account personalize the issues. We must respond to those that deserve our response and allow the Nigerian people to take a position on others.”
Okoye noted that “2022 is loaded with activities and all Heads of Departments and Public Affairs Officers must be abreast of these activities. Elections take place at the base level and it is important to build the capacity of our communication experts to undertake the arduous challenges that comes with election management and organization.”
Challenging the Heads of Voter Education and Publicity and Public Affairs to rise to the occasion, Okoye said: “Knowledge is central to democracy and communication is at the heart of our work as election managers. It is imperative and fundamental that we continually and continuously build the capacity of our frontline staff to understand issues in the electoral process and communicate effectively.”
In conclusion, Okoye stressed the need for improved performance by Heads of Voter Education and Publicity, as well as Public Affairs Officers. In his words, “We must see improved permanence by our Heads of Voter Education and Publicity and our Public Affairs Officers. We want to see better and robust engagement with the media. We want to see well-written press statements that represent the clear intentions of the Commission and convey same in simple language. We want to see clear engagement in the social media. Policies of the Commission and innovations must be cascaded to the grassroots using the best and most effective means of communication.”
Source: The Guardian