By Emmanuel Oloniruha
The Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has said the commission is not contemplating any adjustment to the 2023 general election timetable, let alone postpone the poll.
Yakubu stated this at the presentation of electronic copy of the 93,469,008 voter register to leaders of political parties on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said that more than ever before the commission was more prepared for the 2023 general elections and had now successfully implemented 11 out of the 14 activities on schedule for the elections.
“Already, substantial quantities of sensitive and non-sensitive materials have been deployed to various locations across the country.
“The last batch of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) has been received while the ongoing configuration of the critical technology in readiness for elections will soon be completed. In the last two days, we commenced the airlifting of other sensitive materials to States across the country.
“Already, some of the materials for 17 States in three geo-political zones have been delivered. Furthermore, 13,868,441 Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) have been printed, delivered to States and are being collected by citizens as new voters or by existing voters who applied for transfer or replacement of cards as provided by law.
he added that similarly, following the display of the voters’ register nationwide and the conclusion of claims and objections by citizens, a new national register of voters has been compiled.
“In short, at no time in the recent history of the Commission has so much of the forward planning and implementation been accomplished 44 days ahead of a General Election.
“Therefore, the commission is not contemplating any adjustment to the election timetable, let alone the postponement of the General Election.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on Saturday Feb. 25, 2023 while Governorship and State Assembly elections will hold two weeks later on Saturday March 11, 2023.
“The repeated assurance by the security agencies for the adequate protection of our personnel, materials and processes also reinforces our determination to proceed.
“The 2023 General Election will hold as scheduled. Any report to the contrary is not the official position of the Commission.’’
On the register voter, Yakubu said after the cleaning up of the data from the last Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) from June 2021 to July 2022, where 9,518,188 new voters were added to the exiting 84,004,084 voters, the preliminary register voters was 93,522,272.
He said that when the register was presented to Nigerians for claims and objections as required by law, INEC received 53,264 objections from Nigerians to the prevalence of ineligible persons on the register by virtue of age, citizenship or death, which were verified and removed from the register.
“Consequently, the register of voters for the 2023 General Election stands at 93,469,008. Of this cumulative figure, 49,054,162 (52.5 per cent) are male while 44,414,846 (47.5 per cent) are female.
“The distribution by age group shows that 37,060,399 (39.65 per cent ) are youth between the ages of 18 and 34; 33,413,591 (35.75 per cent ) are middle aged persons between the ages of 35 and 49;
“17,700,270 (18.94 per cent ) are elderly voters between the ages of 50 and 69 while 5,294,748 (5.66%) are senior citizens aged 70 and above.
“In terms of occupational distribution, students constitute the largest category with 26,027,481 (27.8%) of all voters, followed by 14,742,554 (15.8 per cent ) Farmers/Fishermen and 13,006,939 (13.9 per cent) housewives.
“The data on disability was not collected for previous registration. However, the cumulative figure of 85,362 persons from the recent CVR indicates that there are 21,150 (24.5 per cent ) persons with Albinism; 13,387 (15.7 per cent ) with physical impediment and 8,103 (9.5 per cent) are blind.”
Yakubu said that the softcopy of the breakdown and analysis would be uploaded to INEC website and social media platforms shortly.
He reiterated INEC commitment to transparent, credible and inclusive 2023 General Election, saying INEC would continue to take every step to protect the sanctity of the votes cast by citizens and to deal with infractions.
This according to Yakubu, includes the arrest and prosecution of persons that attempt to perpetuate illegality at Polling Units on Election Day, be they underaged voters or vote buyers.
On the collection of PVCs at 8,809 Registration Areas/Wards nationwide, Yakubu said that locations for collection could be identified by sending a short text message to any of the two dedicated telephone lines
In his response IPAC Chairman, Yabagi Sani commended INEC efforts in ensuring that power is peacefully transferred in the country; in spite the challenges and plots by anti-democratic agents to truncate the process.
Sani, who was represented by IPAC General Secretary, Yusuf Dantalle said that political parties were resolved to ensure to support INEC, security agencies and traditional rulers for peaceful conduct of 2023 general election.
He said that party leaders were confidence in INEC technology for the election including BVAS and IReV for electronic transmission of result.
Sani said the deployment of the technology would discourage vote buying and situation where people write election results from their rooms and ask INEC official to declare it for people to go to court..
“It makes evidence that so many efforts are in place to ensure that this did not work but we are equally appealing to political party leaders in the country to see that power belongs to God and He gives it to whoever He will.
“We will try the best we can, but we political leaders must the country forward. We do not under intense pressure as if we don’t want this democracy or this election will not succeed.’’
Lagos has the highest number of voters with 7, 060,195, followed by Kano State with 5,921,370 and Kaduna with 4,335,208 registered voters.
Ekiti State has the least registered voters with 987,647, followed by Bayelsa with 1,056,862 and Yobe with 1,485,146 registered voters.(NAN)