The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has said it will not release the 2023 general election timetable until the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is signed into law.
Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC chairman, disclosed this on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, in Abuja during the commission’s first quarterly consultative meeting with political parties.
He said; “On the Electoral Amendment Bill currently before the National Assembly, the Commission is encouraged by the Senate President’s assurance to give priority attention to the Bill when the National Assembly reconvenes from its recess today, and the commitment by the President to assent to the Bill as soon as the issue of mode of primaries by political parties is resolved. We look forward to a speedy passage of the Bill, which is crucial to our preparations for future elections.
“As soon as it is signed into law, the Commission will quickly release the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election based on the new law”.
Noting that 2022 is going to be a very busy year for the Commission and the political parties, Yakubu reminded them that the 2023 General Election was just 396 days away.
He said all the critical preparations must be concluded this year, explaining that 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 transfer to new voting locations, replacement of their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) or updated their voter information records as required by law.
“At the moment, the Commission is undertaking the most comprehensive clean 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”, Yakubu stated.
According to him, the Commission has also decided that the suspended Ekiti East I State Constituency bye-election will be combined with the State Governorship election holding on 18th June 2022.
He said the date for the Shinkafi State Constituency bye-election in Zamfara State will be announced after a thorough review of the security situation in the area, while the Commission awaits the declaration of vacancy by the Kaduna State House of Assembly in respect of Giwa West State Constituency.
“Turning to the major end-of-tenure and off-cycle elections, party primaries for the Ekiti State Governorship election are scheduled for 4th – 29th January 2022. For the Osun State Governorship election, primaries will hold from 16th February to 12th March 2022.
“In the case of Ekiti State, all the 18 political parties have served the mandatory notices for the primaries. Let me seize this opportunity to draw the attention of parties to the necessity for transparent and rancour-free primaries. Parties should also respect their chosen dates for the primaries based on the Commission’s Timetable and Schedule of Activities.
“Already, many parties have rescheduled their primaries several times. While the Commission has earmarked a period of three weeks and 4 days (i.e. 25 days) for the conduct of the Ekiti State Governorship primaries, virtually all political parties have decided to hold their primaries in the last 4 days i.e. 26th – 29th January 2022. In fact, seven political parties have chosen the last day for their primaries.
“Similarly, no party has so far submitted its list of aspirants, the composition of its electoral panel, or the register of members or list of delegates depending on the chosen mode for electing its candidates.
“As of yesterday, only one party has indicated the venue for its primaries. I urge you all to do so immediately to enable us to work out the detailed plans for monitoring the primaries. All primaries for electing candidates must take place in the constituency where election will hold as required by law. In the cases of Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections, any primaries conducted outside the two States will not be monitored by the Commission and their outcomes will not be accepted. This also applies to primaries for bye-elections conducted outside the constituencies”, he added.
On the Federal Capital Territory FCT Area Council election, Yakubu gave insights into the distribution of voters to Polling Units in the territory, particularly the fact that 593 out of 2,822 or 21% of the total, do not have voters.
“This is because voters failed to take advantage of the expansion of access to transfer to these new Polling Units. The detailed distribution of voters to Polling Units in the FCT is among the documents in your folders for this meeting”, he stated.
Responding on behalf of the political parties, Chairman of the Inter Party Advisory Committee IPAC, Engr. Yabagi Sani said the parties are anticipating more superlative performance by INEC in the remaining off-season elections, beginning with the Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory and later on, the gubernatorial elections in Osun and Ekiti states.
He said the most serious and potent impediment to the successful conduct of the 2023 general elections, is the lingering debacle between the Executive and the Legislature on the fate of the 2021 Electoral (Amendment) Bill.
“While time is dangerously running out for the resolution of the disputes between the two arms, the IPAC is of the position that the controversy may have been contrived in the first instance, purely and clearly in the pursuits of narrow and self-centered political ambitions of some of the gladiators.
“We are, therefore, using this occasion to once again make our strident call for the immediate resolution of the unnecessary impasse over the Electoral Amendment Bill in the superior and overriding national interest. The IPAC has persistently suggested at various forums that, the first rational step in the circumstance, is for the two apex legislative houses to immediately expunge from the 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.
“Going forward, we have also called on the President to thereafter, assent to the Bill without delay. Our concern in the IPAC, is that 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,” he stated.