Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Thursday, announced dates it would publish the final list of candidates cleared for the 2023 presidential, National Assembly, governorship and state House of Assembly elections.
According to the electoral umpire, presidential and national assembly candidates will be published on September 20; while governorship and state houses of assembly flag bearers will be published on October 4.
This was disclosed in Abuja by the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, at the ”Expert Meeting on Conducting Nigeria’s 2023 General Elections in Volatile Security Environment.”
Yakubu who restated the Commission’s preparedness to conduct a credible poll in 2023, said that INEC would continue to adhere strictly to the provisions of the Electoral Act.
The expert meeting was organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, in conjunction with INEC.
According to the INEC boss, the publication of the final list was in line with Section 32(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022, and the Timetable and Schedule of Activities released by the Commission.
As he put it: ”Campaign in public by political parties will officially commence on September 28, as provided for by Section 94(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
“As campaigns commence, we appeal to all political parties and candidates to focus on issue-based campaigns.
“This is the best way to complement our efforts to ensure transparent elections in which only the votes cast by citizens determine the winner.”
According to Yakubu, activities for the 2023 general elections will be on top gear from September 20.
He commended CDD for the expert meeting initiative which he noted, would help all necessary stakeholders prepare adequately for the forthcoming elections.
“The commission welcomes this initiative and as Co-Chairman of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), there is no doubt that the security agencies also welcome ideas and citizens’ support towards peaceful elections,” he said.
In a remark, Director, CDD, Ms Idayat Hassan, said that the meeting was organised to help address issues surrounding the security challenges in the country.
The idea, according to her, is to start talking about how to de-escalate the tension and how to make all parts of the country accessible by INEC staff.
“I think one for this election, the security of election materials, the security of personnel, the security of voters are in context and there is actually the problem in INEC assessing all areas.
“We should note that this is not just an INEC problem, this is a stakeholder’s problem, insecurity is already prevailing.
“The challenge we are having is how do we conduct election against the background of this prevailing insecurity? It will behold on the federal government and other stakeholders to come in.”
Mr Chris Pycroft, the Development Director, Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO), said that the office was delighted to be partnering with CDD and providing funding for the event and related activity to promote peaceful and secure elections in 2023.
“This is a top priority for the UK in Nigeria over the coming six months, and one of the multiple initiatives in partnership with Nigerian and international stakeholders.
“The stakes have never felt higher. Nigeria is facing more challenges than ever before in its democratic history to run a peaceful and secure election.
“These elections are profoundly important not only for Nigeria but also for the African continent and democracy across the world,” he said.