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Electoral Act Bill delaying 2023 election timetable –INEC

…says 21% FCT PUs have no voters

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the inability of the National Assembly and the executive to resolve issues surrounding the 2021 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill are delaying release of the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general election.

The Commission also disclosed that 593 out of 2,822 (or 21%) polling units in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are without voters in the forthcoming Area Council election. INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at a quarterly meeting with leaders of political parties yesterday, stated that the timetable for the 2023 general election would be based on the new Electoral Act, if signed into law. President Muhammadu Buhari had withheld his assent on the bill, which was passed late last year by the National Assembly on the excuse that direct mode of primary for election of candidates of political parties, was included in the bill The bill was returned to the National Assembly, but Prof. Yakubu said he was assured by President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan that the bill would be given priority attention when the National Assembly reconvenes from its recess.

The INEC Chairman expressed confidence that President Buhari would “assent to the bill as soon as the issue of mode of primaries by political parties is resolved,” which he described as “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.” Prof. Yakubu regretted that FCT voters failed to take advantage of the expansion of voter access by INEC, to transfer to the newly created polling units.

The INEC Chairman stated that the FCT election will be the second major election Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) would be deployed after the Anambra governorship held in November last year. According to him: “The 68 constituencies in the FCT (six Chairmen and 62 Councillors) covering extensive urban and rural locations sharing border with five states in the North Central and North Western parts of the country is another opportunity to pilot the efficacy of the BVAS in a different geographical, geo-political and electoral context.

“The same technology will be deployed in all forthcoming bye-elections across the country. “For all elections going forward, polling unit results will be uploaded in real-time to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal.” Prof. Yakubu said no political party has submitted its list of aspirants, the composition of its electoral panel, or the register of members or list of delegates, for the Ekiti State governorship primary.

He noted that the commission fixed party primaries for the Ekiti State governorship election between January 4 and 29 while Osun State primaries will hold from February 16 to 12 March 12, but stated that while all the 18 political parties in Ekiti State have served the Commission mandatory notices for the primaries, many of them have rescheduled their primaries several times.

The INEC Chairman added that while the Commission has earmarked a period of three weeks and four days for the conduct of the Ekiti State governorship primaries, “virtually all political parties have decided to hold their primaries in the last four days i.e.

26th – 29th January 2022. In fact, seven political parties have chosen the last day for their primaries.” Prof. Yakubu also urged the parties to conduct transparent and rancourfree primaries, as well as respect their chosen dates for the primaries based on the commission’s timetable and schedule of activities. The National Chairman of the Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC), the umbrella body of all registered political parties in the country, Yabagi Sani, commended INEC for the successes it recorded in previous elections but added that the council is anticipating superlative performance in the off-season elections.

 

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