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2023 elections: INEC, stakeholders offer assurances on insecurity, BVAS

By Sodiq Omolaoye (Abuja), Sunday Aikulola, Shakirah Adunola and Ngozi Egenuka (Lagos)
20 January 2023   |   4:40 am
• NBC DG cautions broadcasters on adherence to Electoral Act, Codes • Why Nigerians must vote accountable leadership, by Obasanjo • NBC DG cautions broadcasters on adherence to Electoral Act, Codes • Why Nigerians must vote accountable leadership, by Obasanjo Stakeholders have offered assurances on coming elections despite concerns over security challenges in the country,…

EU flags outside the European Commission.<br />

• NBC DG cautions broadcasters on adherence to Electoral Act, Codes
• Why Nigerians must vote accountable leadership, by Obasanjo

• NBC DG cautions broadcasters on adherence to Electoral Act, Codes
• Why Nigerians must vote accountable leadership, by Obasanjo

Stakeholders have offered assurances on coming elections despite concerns over security challenges in the country, which many fear could significantly impact the poll, if not urgently addressed.

The team lead of DAI, Rudolf Elbling, had expressed fears in Abuja, yesterday, at a seminar organised to assess various security threats that could impact the conduct and credibility of the elections, particularly as it relates to the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).

Elbling said: “For a country like Nigeria, election always has the potential of creating unrest and instability, considering its size, and that is a very dangerous thing not only for Nigeria and Nigerians, but for the whole region.

“So, the insecurity issue for the last one or two years is of concern for everybody. It’s a concern for every Nigerian because life has changed. You cannot move around as you could, so there is a huge potential for this to impact on the elections,” Elbling said.

Elbling described innovations by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) towards the electoral process as “quite substantial.” But he noted that insecurity, which he described as the “basic problem,” might prevent INEC from conducting elections in all parts of the country.

According to him, “this would create a lot of legal implications that might disrupt the process. There is a lot of potential legal implications, which subsequently would have a lot of political implications and which would have a lot of potentials to disrupt the poll. But, of course, you know, logistics is also and always an issue.

“And I’m afraid that the insecurity again, will add to this problem and complicate issues more. Also, will the election technology hold up?

“The BVAS is a very promising item, but will it be working everywhere? We also have the INEC Results Viewing Portal. All these kinds of things are what we are really looking forward to, even as they worked very well in the Ekiti and Osun elections. But, again, the security climate, the political climate, which is extremely hostile… How will it affect the acceptance and credibility of elections?”

He urged politicians to accept the election legal framework and play by the rules, adding that the rule is “there to be accepted not to be manipulated.”

HOWEVER, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, allayed concerns expressed by Elbling, saying security agencies have assured the Commission that elections will be conducted in every nook and cranny of the country.

He explained: “Recall that we conducted the 2019 general elections and we learnt a lot of lessons. After the election, we carried out reviews, both internal and external. We met with electoral officials, civil society organisations. We also received reports from observers, and we put all of these together. What we did was to look at what went right, and wrong, and why what went wrong went wrong to correct all these mistakes.

“We were able to isolate all the issues. And banking on that, we have been able to improve our preparation for 2023. And, of course, the advantage that the INEC chairman has is that he’s the only one that has been reappointed. So, it’s like back-to-back tenureship. That has really helped. So, we are better prepared now for 2023 than 2019.”

On security fears, Oyekanmi said: “From all indications and from what we have gathered from security agencies, we’ve had assurances that the elections will go on as planned. And we are ready on the side of INEC. We have no doubt about the ability of security agencies to secure the environment. And that’s very important because if those saddled with the responsibility of securing the environment are assuring us that the elections will hold, I don’t see any reason why we should be worried. So, we are good to go.”

Speaking on the concerns raised about BVAS, Oyekanmi said the device, which was used in some off-season elections, had been adjudged successful. He said though they were challenges, the Commission was satisfied with overall performance.

Oyekanmi said: “As I speak, we have received all the BVAS machines we need for the 2023 elections. All of them have been tested and the rate of fault is like 0.007 per cent, according to our ICT department.

“We are still going to carry out mock accreditation. The advantage BVAS has over the smart card reader is that while the smart card reader authenticates with fingerprint alone, the BVAS captures the facial. So, if your fingerprint cannot be read, your face will definitely be used for accreditation. The mock accreditation is to further strengthen our position. So, I think we are good to go. ”

Also, the Director General of, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Balarabe Ilelah, has reiterated the need for broadcasters to abide by the Electoral Act 2022, NBC Act and Code.

Speaking at the official presentation of ‘Whisperings of a Broadcast Jewel’, written by a veteran broadcaster, Hajiya Aminah Muhammad, in Lagos, yesterday, he noted that broadcasters should provide accurate and responsible reportage of election matters, give equal opportunities to parties and coverage of political parties, especially during prime time.

Insisting that broadcasters must be professional, he said any form of fake news, hate speech or derogatory remarks would not be condoned.

In a related development, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has challenged citizens to vote for a leader who has accountability structures in place, in the presidential poll.

He said this, yesterday, at The Experiential Leadership in Africa (TEL-AFRICA) global interactive virtual session, with the theme: ‘Executive Decisions, Indecisions, and Leadership Development in Africa’.

He noted that Africa is not where it should be, but its potential in diversity makes it a great continent. He said if well managed, there would be a lot of improvement. If not, it would take Africa a really long time to grow.

On why the multiparty system has not worked for Africa, he said he didn’t believe it has failed, but noted that a problem of political nature in Nigeria is leadership, rather than the multiparty system itself.

“The extent to which we have people who play the democratic game the way it should be played, the more we will entrench our democracy,” he said.

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