The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is to meet with the heads of security agencies to review security situations in the country ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The INEC National Commissioner, Information and Voter Education, Bar. Festus Okoye dropped the hint at the opening ceremony of a 2-day workshop for the Commission’s staff of Voter Education and Publicity including the heads of Departments and Publicity Affairs Officers from the Northern States on Strategic Communications and Operationalization of the Communication Policy facilitated by the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES-Nigeria).
According to him, “As we move closer to the 2023 general election, all the critical stakeholders and the security agencies must resolve to degrade and or neutralize the security threats across the federation. Our people must be assured that they can vote in a peaceful atmosphere.
“The Chairman of the Commission has pointed out and consistently emphasized that the current level of insecurity in the country remains the greatest and most potent threat to the conduct of free, fair, and transparent elections in the country. As some of you are aware, the CVR is taking place only in the 37 State and 774 Local Government Offices of the Commission. The Commission intends to devolve the CVR to 2, 673 locations as against the current 811 locations. Our inability to actualize this is on account of the security situation in most states of the Federation.
“Presently, there are two vacancies in the Zamfara State House of Assembly and one in the Kaduna State House of Assembly. The vacancy for Shinkafi State Constituency has been declared while that of Gusau 1 State Constituency of Zamfara State and Giwa State Constituency has not been declared.
The Commission is reviewing the security situation in the constituencies where these vacancies occurred and will take appropriate decision at the appropriate time.
“The Chairman of the Commission and the Commission will meet with the heads of the nation’s security agencies and review the security situation in the country and determine further deployment and devolution of the CVR on a roll-out, roll back procedure,” Okoye stated.
On party primaries, the National Commissioner warned the political parties against conducting the primaries not in conformity with the dictates of the Constitution, the Electoral Act, and the Timetable and Schedule of Activities of the Commission.
“Political parties are reminded that they must conduct valid primaries, in the venue chosen by them and communicated to the Commission. The primaries must take place in the constituency where the election will take place and on the day indicated in their letter to the Commission and using the mode of primaries voluntarily chosen by them,” he said.
Okoye however urged the VEPs and POAs to embark on aggressive campaigns against multiple and double Continuous Voter Registration Exercise.
“As Heads of Department and Public Affairs Officers, you must assist in educating Nigerians on the importance of the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration Exercise. You must carry out an aggressive and sustained campaign against multiple and double registration. As a Commission, we must design measures and strategies to halt the dangerous descent to double and multiple registrations going on in most states of the Federation.
“Those that engage in “trucking”, “storage” of Permanent Voters Cards and corruption of the electoral process must realize that the Commission has a robust cleanup process that detects multiple and double registrants. Double or multiple registrations whether innocently done or not is a violation of the law that attracts sanctions,” the National Commissioner, Okoye stated.
In his remarks, the Project Coordinator of ECES-Nigeria, Hamza Fassi-Fihri charged the INEC staff on the need to display a commitment to high ethical standards and professionalism in the discharge of their duties.
Earlier, INEC Voter Education Director, Mr. Ayo Aluko said the workshop was part of the commission’s cardinal principle to ensure continuous capacity building for its staff in order to keep them abreast of the task ahead during the 2023 general elections.