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As INEC Prepares For State Elections
Published Mar 24, 2023 IN Editorial,
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AMID the subsisting court cases over the outcome of the 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), last week announced the postponement of the gubernatorial and Houseo f Assembly elections earlier scheduled to hold on Saturday, March 11, 2023 to March 18, 2023. The election was postponed on Wednesday, three days to the earlier scheduled date, over the need to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System(BVAS), an instrument that aids voter accreditation and capturing for purpose of casting votes.

According to the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, the postponement was as a result of the litigation against the electoral body. He explained that “the BVAS can only be activated on the specific date and time of an election. Having been used for the presidential and National Assembly elections on 25th February 2023, it is necessary to reconfigure the BVAS for activation on the date of the governorship and state assembly elections”.

To keen followers of Nigeria’s evolving democracy, the postponement was expected. The first set of elections, presidential and National Assembly, created some yet-to -be resolved hydra-headed complications and confusion, putting INEC on adisgraceful pedestrian that put the coming elections on shaky stead and necessitated long wait to reconfigure the BVAS in preparation for subsequent polls.

The delay followed the disputed outcome of the February 25 elections, which has led major political parties such as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP), to approach the court seeking the cancellation and conduct of fresh elections to correct observed anomalies. The parties were able to obtain a court order to inspect the INEC materials, including the BVAS, which housed the result and which must be reconfigured and placed on active mode for the coming elections.

Unfortunately, the instrument cannot conveniently satisfy both demands of inspection and be ready for coming elections at same time, thereby prompting INEC to work towards getting an order to allow it to reconfigure the BVAS and commence preparations for the gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections. The court granted this aspect, and to achieve it effectively, INEC was compelled to postpone the elections.

However, it is not enough to postpone the slated elections. The demands of the postponement, which include addressing the shortcomings of the

last elections, must be met. Considering the hitches that characterized the presidential and National Assembly elections, INEC must take steps to position itself and redeem its now questionable image. Consequently, the one week postponement must be aptly utilised to meet the demands of the times.

For instance, the presidential and National Assembly elections were troubled from the beginning. Voting materials arrived late at greater percentage of the polling units across the country. The adhoc staff were not dexterous in handling equipment. The INEC server, trusted to dispense

results, was not effective as it developed ‘glitches and hitches’. In the same vein, citizens were disappointed that the much celebrated BVAS could not perform creditably and effectively.

Be that as it may, and having got to this stage, INEC must get on the desk and muster its schedules accordingly. It should begin by complying with the deadline for the reconfiguration, ensure that arrangements must be perfected to ensure electoral materials get to units on time and ensure that members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), who demonstrated commitment and dedication in the last election, despite some observed shortcomings, and other ad hoc staff, are retrained.

Also, INEC should open and maintain communication with security agencies and other stakeholders for a perfect strategy in achieving laudable results. Most importantly, the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, should see this exercise as an integrity revalidation test and work towards redeeming the image of the commission, especially by avoiding those that ‘sabotaged’ his efforts. In fact, he has a date with destiny, which must befulfilled on March 18.

We enjoin those affected by the postponement in one way or the order to show patriotism and work towards realizing the objectives of the elections.

It is not enough to ask for time to perfect plans for an election. INEC must adhere to its set time and give the citizens free, fair and acceptable elections on Saturday March 18.

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