Yakubu also urged registered voters who have not yet collected their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) to take advantage of the opportunity of the extension of the deadline to collect their cards.

Yakubu said the commission was committed to free, fair and credible elections, adding that the will of Nigerians would prevail during the exercise.

“One of the things we’ve decided to do is make sure we test the device by running a simulated accreditation exercise.

“We have announced that this exercise will take place on Saturday, February 4, which means it will take place this weekend. So once again I take the opportunity of this visit to call on Nigerians to go to the designated voting units.” he said.

According to him, there are 436 UPs designated at the national level, 12 UPs in each state of the Federation and four in the FCT so that voters can test the device.

“In the unlikely event of challenges, we have time between the conclusion of the exercise and the general election to respond to challenges.

“But we are very happy with the functionality of the machines so far, particularly with the tests carried out on the number of machines received in preparation for the general election.” he said.

Yakubu also called on civil society organizations, the media, political parties and Nigerians to watch where they want in the BVAS deployment for the simulated exercise on Saturday.

On the preparations for the 2023 general election, Yakubu said that INEC had made progress on the procurement and delivery of election materials.

He said that most of the materials required for the election, both confidential and non-confidential, were already in various places.

“I think we are lucky that the preparation went very well. And then, with the benefit of the new Electoral Law, we have more time to prepare than our predecessors had in the past,” he said.

Yakubu said INEC was also working with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to ensure adequate logistics for the early start and conclusion of voting, as well as for the declaration of results.

He added that the commission would begin training electoral service personnel on February 9.

Hailing the partnership and IFES’s support, Yakubu said the partnership would not only continue but be strengthened.

Earlier in his remarks, Banbury said that whatever happened in Nigeria’s upcoming election would have an impact on other elections this year around the world.

He said IFES has been working in Nigeria to strengthen and consolidate democracy and electoral integrity throughout the country since 1999.

“Nigeria’s leadership in Africa and, indeed, around the world, is an inspiration to people in established and struggling democracies around the world.

“What happens in this country impacts the fight for democracy throughout the continent; in fact, I would say all regions of the world.

“In 2023, the work of INEC and the actions of Nigerian voters will constitute the most important election anywhere in the world this year,” he said.

Banbury said his delegation was at INEC to see how they could help him fulfill his mandates in the 2023 general election and beyond.

He said IFES tried to take best practice and share it with countries around the world.

According to him, INEC has developed a world-class practice that the Foundation will be happy to share with others.

“IFES is deeply honored to be able to support INEC in fulfilling its tremendously important responsibilities.

“Even as we try to bring our perspective when working on these issues around the world and we bring very strong technical expertise on elections, we know that every day we learn as much from you as we can contribute to your work.” he said.

He praised Yakubu for building on the progress made by the commission under the leadership of former INEC presidents.

“When you look at the record, from a technical perspective, of what Nigerians have done to strengthen their democracy since the 1999 constitution, it is very significant.

“There are few countries anywhere in the world that can 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.” Banbury said.