Amid preparations for the 2023 general election, the Independent National Electoral Commission has organized a retreat to review the off-cycle Governorship elections held in Ekiti and Osun states so as to draw lessons and improved upon its performance for international best practice.

Chairman of, the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu speaking at the retreat in Lagos state said as a commission it is best to review processes as every election has its own lesson, hence if improved upon will enhance the citizen’s trust.

According to him, it is part of the effort put by the commission in attaining the over 170 recommendations by both local and international observers after the conduct of the 2019 General Election in the country.

Mahmood said “In the 2019 General Election, we had a series of engagements with officials of the Commission and election observers, security agencies, and all other stakeholders across the board. Arising from these engagements, and the individual observation reports submitted by accredited observers, the Commission published a review of the election and a full report on the election which are still available on our website. In particular, the review report identified over 170 recommendations to improve elections in Nigeria. In the course of implementing the recommendations that only required administrative action by INEC, we introduced innovations beyond what was envisaged in the review report. Furthermore, we worked together with all stakeholders and the National Assembly to ensure that aspects of the report that required the review of the legal framework were given expeditious consideration. “The result is the Electoral Act 2022 while some of the recommendations that require constitutional amendments are currently under consideration.”

He noted that conducting elections, particularly in the area of management has become complex due to the nation’s population, thus being optimistic that the reviewing process will bring to light areas of improvement for the success of the 2023 general election.

“Voting populations have become larger and more diverse in terms of their voting needs and expectations. The introduction of technology has made elections and the electoral process more transparent. Electoral Commissions are subjected to greater public scrutiny and under increasing pressure to adequately respond to the diversity and complexity of the needs of various electoral stakeholders to ensure seamless voter registration processes, expand voter access to polling units, ensure adequate and focused voter and civic education programs, provide adequate and prompt information about electoral activities, make adequate arrangements for the prompt commencement of voting activities on Election Day, address issues of inclusivity for marginalized groups (women, youth, persons with disability and IDPs) and ensure greater transparency in result management and result collation processes.”

Earlier, the Chief Technical Adviser to the Hon. Chairman, INEC. Prof. Bolade Eyinla said both elections were governed by the Electoral Act 2022 and the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, thus commending the innovations, saying it was adjudged by all stakeholders to be free, fair, transparent, and credible.

“This perception not only elevated public trust in INEC it imbued the Commission with confidence in its systems, processes, and procedures towards the 2023 General Election.

“The acclaimed outcome of the Ekiti and Osun Governorship election was not a fluke. It was as a result of the amount of time, energy, hard work, resources, and dedication that the Commission and its Officials expended in conducting the elections. These include the release of the calendar and schedule of activities more than a year before the elections, rigorous planning and procurement processes, early release of adequate funds, direct deployment of sensitive election materials without recourse to usual channels involving the Central Bank of Nigeria, extensive consultations with all stakeholders, especially traditional rulers and religious leaders, effective recruitment and training of election duty officials, decongestion of overcrowded Polling Units, field testing of electoral technologies, especially the BVAS, an extension of the period for PVC collection and innovative methods to improve collection as well as deployment of National and Resident Electoral Commissioners to support the Resident Electoral Commissioners.”

Prof. Bolade added that the retreat is aimed at counting on the successes achieved while seeking to identify some challenges that may have been encountered during the election so as to enable adequate preparation and implementation of activities for the 2023 General Election.

“The expectation is that at the end of this retreat, based on a proper understanding and analyses of the issues and incidences associated with the two elections, we should be able to develop a concrete and comprehensive roadmap for improving the quality of elections and the electoral process. Novel ideas will be required to deal with various latent and emergent issues including the impact of insecurity on elections, rising costs occasioned by inflation, fluctuations in the exchange rate and increased prices of petroleum products, equitable voter distribution to Polling Units, vote buying, sourcing of ad-hoc staff, improved PVC collection strategy, hate speech, misinformation and disinformation, judicial interventions as well as the conduct and behavior of the political class.

“Based on the honest discussions and critical appraisals of the elections, it is expected that we will be able to build upon and reinforce the successes achieved, identify and address the encountered challenges and make concerted efforts to apply the lessons learned in strengthening our administrative, operational and logistical arrangements for successful conduct and delivery of the 2023 General Election which is just 164 days away.”

The Commission has made concerted efforts to respond to diverse and complex needs arising from the last two Electoral Cycles (2011-2015 and 2015-2019) thus making elections to become better organized in a transparent manner as the onus is on the commission to hit the public expectations as it strives to raise its bar to the highest for good governance.


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