By Angela Atabo, Abuja.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it plans to publish the final list of candidates for Presidential, Senate and House of Representatives seats on Sept. 20, ahead of 2023 elections.
INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu said this on Thursday in Abuja at the “Expert Meeting on Conducting Nigeria’s 2023 General Elections in Volatile Security Environment”.
The event was organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), in conjunction with INEC.
Yakubu said that 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 that were released by the commission.
“This will be followed on Oct. 4 by the publication of the final list of candidates for state elections (Governorship and State Houses of Assembly).
“Campaign in public by political parties will officially commence on Sept. 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,” he said.
Yakubu said that activities toward the 2023 General Elections would enter critical stages this month, particularly from the next 19 days onward.
“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.
The Director of CDD, Ms Idayat Hassan, said that the meeting was held against the background of some security challenges plaguing the country.
Hassan said the idea was to start talking about how to deescalate the tension and how to secure the environment, such that INEC would be able to assess all parts of the country to conduct peaceful and legitimate election, come 2023.
“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 a problem in INEC assessing all areas.
“We should note that this is not just an INEC problem, this is a stakeholders’ problem, insecurity is already prevailing.
“The challenge we are having is how to do we conduct election against the background of this prevailing insecurity? It will behold on the Federal Government and other stakeholders to come in,” he said.
Mr Chris Pycroft, the Development Director, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), said that the office was delighted to partner with CDD and provide funding for the event and related activities to promote peaceful and secure elections in 2023.
According to Pycroft, this is a top priority for the UK in Nigeria over the coming six months and one of multiple initiatives in the 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 running 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.
Pycroft said that there was more at stake in terms of the unity and peaceful co-existence of Nigeria’s diverse religious, ethnic and cultural communities.
Prof. Adebayo Olukoshi, Election Expert, CDD, said that Nigeria was challenged with several security challenges and there was a need to seek ways to curb them before the election.
He said that there was also the need to understand the various conflicts being faced, with a view to developing a solution that would best address them.