.Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has said that the commission planned to declare election results promptly as decided by Nigerians.
The Commission chairman stated this on Monday when International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES) delegation paid a visit to the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, during which the IFES said Nigeria’s improvement in electoral integrity since 1999 was significant.
According to the INEC chairman, the delegation came at a very auspicious time, just three weeks to the seventh general election in Nigeria since the restoration of democracy in 1999.
The INEC chairman said that the commission had successfully implemented 12 out of the 14 activities on schedule, saying there were only two activities outstanding – campaign by political parties, and the election day.
He told the delegation that the commission, last Saturday, announced an extension for the collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) by registered voters.
“We believe that it is important for every Nigerian to have an ample opportunity to collect his or her PVC readiness for the election. And if an extension of time is what we need to ensure that that happens, so be it and the commissioners granted the extension,” he said, even as he appealed to Nigerians to seize the opportunity of the extension to ensure that they collected their PVCs.
He further reassured the people of the commission’s commitment to the free, fair and credible election, saying the will of Nigerians would prevail.
Yakubu, who noted that the commission has made tremendous progress in terms of the delivery and acquisition of materials for the elections, said the largest chunk of materials required for the election – both sensitive and non-sensitive, were already at various locations.
“I think we’re lucky. The preparation has gone on very well. And then with the benefit of the new Electoral Act, we have more time to prepare than our predecessors had in the past.
“We are working with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to make sure that we get logistics right; so that we deploy personnel and materials to locations early enough, so that we can open the polling units and conclude the processes at the polling units and quickly the declare outcome of the elections, as decided by Nigerians swiftly.
“The earlier we conclude the processes, the speedier we also declare winners and to conclude the processes earlier, we need to get to locations in good time.
“And tomorrow (today), we are going to meet with the National Union of Road Transport Workers. We have invited their officials from all the states of the federation. They are holding a meeting here in Abuja, we are going to speak to them. We are good to go, basically on this.”
Yakubu explained that on February 9, the commission would commence the training of election duty staff, adding that the electoral body would also engage a large number of ad hoc staff for the election.
“The country is huge. The delimitation details are also really huge. I’ve said this over and over again that with 93 million registered voters in Nigeria, that’s the figure for the 2023 general election. We have 16.7 million more registered voters than the other 14 countries in West Africa put together,” Yakubu said.
Earlier, President of IFES, Mr. Anthony Banbury, said the organisation has been working in Nigeria in support of INEC efforts since 1999, adding that, Nigeria’s leadership in Africa and indeed around the world was an inspiration to people in consolidated and struggling democracies.
His words: “What happens in this country impacts struggles for democracy throughout the continent, and indeed, I would say every region of the world. In 2023, the work of the INEC and actions of the voters of Nigeria will constitute the most significant election anywhere in the world this year.
“When one looks at the record, from a technical perspective, of what Nigerians have accomplished to strengthen their democracy since the 1999 constitution, it’s very significant. And there are a few countries anywhere in the world that could point to such a proud record of achievement in the field of democracy and electoral integrity in what is after all a very short period.
“IFES is deeply honored to be able to support the INEC in the fulfillment of your tremendously important responsibilities. We’ve enjoyed so much partnership and learned so much from the partnership from all of you, even while we try and bring our perspective from working on these issues around the world and bring some very strong technical expertise on elections.
“We know every day we learn as much from you as we’re ever able to possibly contribute to your work. I think every Nigerian would agree that the contributions of Professor Jega to the work of the Commission throughout his tenure were very significant for this country and its strengthening of democracy and electoral integrity.
“And Chairman, I’d like to congratulate you on picking up that mantle and carrying it further since 2015, and making tremendous strides in a very short period of time to further strengthen democracy in this country.”