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INEC restates neutrality as 2023 general elections approach

By Sodiq Omolaoye, Abuja
04 August 2022   |   4:06 am
Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has reiterated the agency’s neutrality as the 2023 general elections approach, stating that it had no preferred candidate or political party.

[FILES] INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu. Photo; FACBOOK/INECNIGERIA

Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has reiterated the agency’s neutrality as the 2023 general elections approach, stating that it had no preferred candidate or political party.

He made the submission yesterday at the fourth Abubakar Momoh Memorial Lecture on “Electoral Act 2022: Imperatives for Political Parties and the 2023 General Elections.”

The programme was organised in honour of erstwhile Director-General of The Electoral Institute (TEI), the late Prof. Abubakar Momoh, who died on May 29, 2017.

Yakubu assured Nigerians that their votes would co determine outcomes of next year’s general elections and future polls in the country, adding that INEC would apply the laws without fear of favour for free, fair, credible, inclusive and transparent elections.

The INEC boss stressed the need for stakeholders, especially political parties, to note the major features introduced by the 2022 Electoral Act and possible implications of the changes on the upcoming polls.

According to Yakubu, the changes include conduct of early party primaries, technological advancements, INEC’s power to review decisions of returning officers (ROs) and over-voting.

He observed that the imperatives contained in the electoral law were ingredients for party building, stabilisation of electoral rules and democratic consolidation.

Yakubu said: “Let me draw your attention to the fact that the use of electronic devices such as Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS), INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED), INEC Results Viewing Portal (IRev) and other technological devices is now legally allowed in the accreditation process for voters, collation of results and in the general conduct of elections. Rest assured these innovations are intended to deepen the electoral process in our country and their optimal performance in the just-concluded gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun states is an eloquent testimony to their electoral value.

“We shall only do more to consolidate their deployment in our elections. Once again, I wish to assure you that INEC has no preferred party or candidate. We shall only ensure that all valid votes count and the winners are decided solely by the voters.”

The nation’s chief electoral umpire described the late Abubakar as an advocate of free, fair, credible and participatory electoral system which he fought for through research and capacity building for workers of the commission, as well as engagement of vigorous voter education activities.

TEI Director-General, Dr. Sa’ad Idris, decried the preponderance of pre-election cases and those after conduct of polls, saying the development had brought a lot of challenges to the electoral process and Nigeria’s political development.

He noted that the Electoral Act had provided solutions to many issues that fuelled endless litigations in the courts in the recent past.