INEC projects 95m voters for 2023 General Elections

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…As insecurity worries Commission

…Considers intensifying synergy, training for security personnel

…To review code of conduct, training manuals to align with Electoral Act 2022

By Moses Adeniyi and Ridwan Adekunle

Ahead of the 2023 General Elections, a  voters’ population of about 95 million has been projected for the process, official source from the echelon of Nigeria’s electoral management body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has confirmed.

The projection reveals less than half of Nigeria’s population now estimated at 220million spread across 8,809 electoral wards, 774 Local Areas and 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) would be eligible for deciding the 2023 general elections.

The projected figure would constitute the eligible voters’ population to elect candidates for 1,491 constituencies (1 Presidential constituency, 28 Governorship elections, 109 Senatorial districts, 360 Federal Constituencies and 993 state assembly seats).

The projected figure, as mentioned by INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, was 20 million higher than the combined voters’ population of the 14 other West African countries in the subregion.

Concern over the number of voters eligible to exercise their franchise for the elections became topical, particularly since INEC closed registration on 31st July 2022, after which it was gathered that no less than seven million interested persons who commenced their registration online couldn’t complete same at INEC capturing centres.

Civil Society Organisations as the Socio-economic Rights & Accountability Project (SERAP) had kicked against the deadline, calling on the commission to discontinue same, particularly as teeming crowd which flooded the cmmission’s accredited centres  for the registration few days till the deadline,  reflected more Nigerians were still willing to effect their registrations to enable them exercise their right.

…INEC preparation measures

On Thursday, at an election security management training in Abuja by the Nigeria Police Force (NFP) for the police and other security personnel in preparation towards the 2023 general election, INEC Boss, while baring his mind on the significance of preparation towards the election, said election preparations, deployment and implementation constituted the most extensive mobilisation that could happen in a country, whether in peacetime or wartime.

In Nigeria’s setting, he said, “It involves the recruitment and training of staff and managing the logistics for their deployment to 176,846 polling units spread across 8,809 electoral wards, 774 Local Areas and 37 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“It also involves a projected voter population of about 95 million for the 2023 general election, which is over 20 million more than the combined voter population of the other 14 countries in West Africa.”

Yakubu who mentioned that ensuring the safety and security of voters, election personnel and materials, candidates, party agents, observers, the media and transporters was paramount, added that the responsibility had become more challenging in the context of the current security situation in the country.

…Insecurity worries Commission

Applauding the move by the police as the lead agency in election security for convening the workshop, Yakubu believed with about seven months to the general election, there was time to build synergy and intensify efforts on proactive measures to ensure that the entire country was secured for election to hold nationwide.

The INEC boss who expressed confidence in the workshop to deepen the capacity of the security personnel to imbibe the global standard of election security management, said the commission, under the auspices of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), has already produced and periodically revised the code of conduct and rules of engagement for security personnel on electoral duty.

“In the next few weeks, the code of conduct as well as our training manuals will be revised to align them with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.

“And to consolidate on the professionalism displayed by the security agencies in the recent off-cycle elections, we will also intensify our cascade training for security personnel ahead of the 2023 General Election,” he said.

Yakubu assured the Inspector-General of Police, heads of other security agencies and all members of ICCES that INEC would continue to work in synergy with them to ensure a safe and secured environment for the 2023 general election.

“It is a critical election and we must all continue to work together to protect the will of the Nigerian people,” he said.

Recall Prof. Yakubu while delivering a keynote address at the 4th Abubakar Momoh Memorial Lecture with the theme, ‘Electoral Act 2022: Imperatives for Political Parties and the 2023 General Election,’ held on Wednesday,  at the Electoral Institute (TEI), Abuja assured Nigerians that all the winners in the 2023 general election will be decided by eligible voters.

He had also affirmed that the innovations introduced by the commission in the last three years were intended to improve the electoral process, mentioning that more will be done to consolidate recent achievements and ensure that votes count in all elections.

Represented by the Chairman of the Board of the TEI and National Commissioner, Prof Abdullahi Abdu Zuru, Prof. Yakubu tasked party Chairmen and members to study the provisions of the New Electoral Act passed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in February 2022 and be committed to ensuring that the 2023 general election is devoid of deliberate infractions to the  Electoral Act, by allowing the electoral process to run smoothly, engender a rich democratic culture and produce an acceptable election outcome.

The INEC Chairman had said the commission was determined to apply the provisions of the new Electoral Act in its resolve to conduct a free, fair, credible, inclusive, and transparent general election in February and March 2023, without fear or favour.