The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and other stakeholders in the electoral process have insisted that the 2023 general election must go ahead despite some challenges.
The commission and stakeholders said this at the 20th Annual Daily Trust Dialogue themed “Interrogating the Presidential Agenda 2023” held in Abuja on Thursday.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye, said that the Commission was intensively preparing for the elections in accordance with its mandate.
He said 70 percent of the non-confidential materials for the election had been deployed.
“As of today, we have received all of the technological devices that we will be deploying for this particular election, and we have also begun training the corps members and other election personnel that will be deployed for the conduct of this election.
“We recognize that security is a major challenge and a reasonable concern for poll workers, the Nigerian people and the Commission.
“We consult almost daily with the various security agencies about the safety of our personnel, the protection of the corps members that will be deployed for this election, and the safety of voters.
“So we want to reassure Nigerians that this commission is committed to conducting free, fair, transparent, verifiable and inclusive elections,” Okoye said.
He reiterated that the dates set for the election remain fixed and firm, and the INEC will not deviate from them.
Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, spokesperson for the Northern Elderly Forum (NEF), praised the organizers of the show for maintaining the quality of the dialogue, adding that the discussions on the 2023 elections were adequate.
Baba-Ahmed said it was time for Nigerians to raise their voices to insist that there must be elections on February 28 and March 11.
“Under any conditions, Nigerians must not and will not accept any arrangement outside of the Constitution.
“It doesn’t matter what the security situation is; there are people with responsibility President Buhari, governors, security agents.
“They must improve the security environment in such a way that it relieves the public of some of the stresses they are living under that are likely to cause them; these are essential,” he said.
Baba-Ahmed said the measure was necessary because a credible election could not be held in a chaotic and angry environment, saying the government should improve it.
He said there were many challenges ahead of the election, such as fuel shortages, insecurity, and even the Central Bank of Nigeria’s naira redesign.
For his part, the national chairman of the New Nigerian People’s Party, NNPP, Prof. Rufai Ahmed-Alkali, said that the naira redesign should have happened a long time ago and not a few months before the election.
Baba-Alkali said the currency exchange was causing turmoil among Nigerians, adding that the new banknotes were not in sufficient circulation and people were rejecting the old ones.
“Second, just recently, some people are calling for the removal of the INEC president for no reason.
“How can you ask for his dismissal? The Commission has also been doing everything they can, so now is a better time to say you want to remove it,” he said.
“All these things are generating tension, but we call on the INEC to remain firm; We also call on security agencies to stand firm, so they can ensure we have a free and credible election.”
The INEC set February 28 and March 11, 2023 for the presidential and gubernatorial elections, respectively.