Next Election: Presidential and National Assembly 25th February 2023

Speeches & Articles

National Commissioners

Resident Electoral Commissioners

Our Development Partner, the UNDP

Secretary to the Commission

DG of the Electoral Institute

Directors and other Senior Officials of the Commission

The Media

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

1.     Let me join the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Lagos State to welcome you all to this occasion. Retreats have become a well-established tradition of the Commission. They are held to review performance in previous elections in order to make subsequent elections better, reappraise the implementation of an existing policy or the induction of new National and Resident Electoral Commissioners.

 

2.     This is the 4th retreat organised by the Commission this year. You may recall that in March, we had an induction retreat for the new National Commissioners. This was followed in September by a retreat to review the recent off-cycle Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections with a view to learning lessons as we prepare for the 2023 General Election. In October, we had another retreat focusing on the management of electoral logistics. Today, we are holding another retreat for Resident Electoral Commissioners.

 

3.     Today’s retreat is significant for many reasons. First, it is coming on the eve of the 2023 General Election which is just 86 days away. Secondly, among the 19 RECs sworn-in four weeks ago on 3rd November 2022, 14 are new appointees, holding office for the first time. It is therefore imperative for them to familiarise themselves with the Commission and its processes and procedures as a matter of utmost urgency. Thirdly, as you familiarise yourselves with the processes and procedures, you will also be implementing activities simultaneously. Already, some sensitive and non-senstive materials have been delivered to your States ahead of the General Election.

 

4.     This retreat therefore is deliberately structured to introduce you to the electoral legal framework as well as the processes and procedures for election administration that is increasingly driven by technology from voter registration, voter accreditation and uploading of polling unit level results on Election Day. Similarly, accreditation of observers, the media and polling agents are all done online through dedicated portals.

 

5.     The retreat will also dwell on the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs), guidelines for voter distribution to Polling Units, the framework for electoral logistics and Code of Conduct for Commission members, officials and staff.

 

6.     Let me therefore reiterate what I recently told you at your swearing-in as Resident Electoral Commissioners. Our success ultimately depends on our integrity. We should remain independent and impartial. As I said on many occasions, the Commission is not a political party. It has no candidates in the forthcoming election. All political parties have equal standing before the Commission. The choice belongs to Nigerian citizens i.e. the electorate. Our responsibility is to uphold the sanctitiy of the ballot – nothing more nothing less.

 

7.     On this note, let me seize this opportunity to comment on two issues. First, is the misleading statement shared online that voters can vote on Election Day without the voter’s card. This is absolutely incorrect. For any person to vote in any election organised by the Commission, he/she must be a registered voter issued with a PVC. The Commission has consistently maintained the policy of “no PVC, no voting”. Nothing has changed. It is a legal requirement and doing otherwise will be a violation of the law. I appeal to Nigerians to ignore any suggestion to the contrary. For the avoidance of doubt, Section 47(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 provides that “a person intending to vote in an election shall present himself with his voter’s card to a Presiding Officer for accreditation at the Polling Unit in the constituency in which his name is registered”. Therefore, the position of the law is clear. The PVC remains a mandatory requirement for voting during elections.

 

8.     Secondly, I wish to once again touch on the troubling issue of attacks on our facilities and the destruction of critical electoral assets in the country. In the last four months, five Local Government Area offices of the Commission were attacked by yet unknown persons. Buildings have been destroyed and materials lost in Udenu and Igboeze North Local Areas of Enugu State, Abeokuta South Local Government of Ogun State, Ede South Local Government Area of Osun State and, most recently, in Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. In these mindless attacks, a total of 1,993 ballot boxes, 399 voting cubicles, 22 electric power generators and thousand of uncollected PVCs were, among other materials, destroyed. These attacks must stop and the perpetrators apprehended and prosecuted.

 

9.     I want to reassure Nigerians that we will recover from these attacks. The lost materials will be replaced but there is a limit to our ability to keep replacing wantonly destroyed materials with just 86 days to the General Election. The security agencies, traditional and community leaders and all well-meaning Nigerians should continue support the Commission to stop the attacks but the ultimate solution is arrest and prosecution so that vandals and arsonists do not feel that bad behaviour is an acceptable conduct in our country.

 

10.     Before I conclude, I would like to thank the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for supporting this retreat. Its long-standing partnership with the Commission has gone a long way in sustaining the incremental progress we are all witnessing in our electoral process.

 

11.     Once again, I welcome you all and it is now my honour to declare the retreat open.

 

12.     Thank you and God bless.

The Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room

Leaders of Civil Society Organisations

National Commissioners of INEC

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

1. I am happy to be here today and wish to especially thank the Civil Society Situation Room for the invitation as a Special Guest and for the opportunity to speak on Preparations for the 2023 General Election. I am glad that the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (CSSR) has remained in the forefront of the advocacy for credible elections in Nigeria. I want to seize this opportunity to once again appreciate the umbrella body of civil society organisations in Nigeria for all you have been doing. The repeal and re-enactment of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) into the Electoral Act 2022 is so far the most progressive legislation in the history of elections in Nigeria. While this is a good development, I am confident that civil society will track issues arising from the implementation of the law and make suggestions for future review as the need arises.

 

2. For today’s event, the Civil Society Situation Room has rightly chosen to focus on the 2023 General Election. As you are aware, the election is just 93 days away and preparations started immediately after the 2019 General Election. You may recall that over a period of 45 days (28th May – 12th July 2019)., the Commission organised a series of consultative meetings with stakeholders to review the 2019 General Election and published a report entitled Review of the 2019 General Election: Report of the Commission’s Retreat and Stakeholder Engagements in which over 170 recommendations were made. Over the last three years, the Commission has implemented most of the recommendations requiring administration action. Those requiring amendments to the law have been substantially addressed in the Electoral Act 2022 while some of those requiring constitutional amendment are currently under consideration.

 

3. With basically three months to the next General Election, the CSSR has chosen the most appropriate issue of the moment and Nigerians would like to know how far is INEC prepared for the election. We have said repeatedly that based on the 14 activities listed in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities released by the Commission on 26th February 2022, we have so far implemented nine of them on schedule. Similarly, we have made tremendous progress in the production and delivery of critical sensitive and non-sensitive election materials to our State offices. Recruitment and training of ad hoc staff for the election are ongoing.

 

4. On electoral logistics, particularly the arrangements for the movement of personnel and materials to various locations during elections, the Commission met again with the service providers and reviewed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the road transport unions. Arising from our experience in previous elections, the Commission has expanded the scope of collaboration to include the marine union for the the riverine areas. Very soon, the revised MoU will be signed with the service providers to cover both land and maritime transportation.

 

5. However, there are four broad areas that Nigerians would like to receive assurances of the progress the Commission is making and challenges (if any) being encountered. They are security, campaign finance, technology, the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and assurances that their votes will count on Election Day.

6. On security, the Commission has said repeatedly that it is an area of concern. The Commission has the responsibility to conduct elections. However, securing the environment for the deployment of personnel and materials as well as the peaceful conduct of elections is a shared responsibility involving the security agencies, the political actors and their supporters, the media and all other critical stakeholders. The perennial insecurity in the country is a source for concern. This existing challenge is compounded by the unfortunate incidents of attacks on campaigns, rallies and processions across all political parties. Although the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for Political Parties are clear, the Commission has found it necessary to remind political parties, candidates and their supporters on the provisions of the law and their responsibilities. Accordingly, tomorrow Thursday 24th November 2022, the Commission will release a summary highlighting the legal provisions governing the conduct of political rallies, processions and campaigns. This will be uploaded to our website and social media platforms.

 

7. Beyond the provisions of the law, the Commission held an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) in the wake of the recent condemnable attacks on our Local Government offices in Ogun and Osun States. Far-reaching resolutions were arrived at, including the deployment of joint security teams to our facilities nationwide. Beyond that, the Inspector General of Police summoned an extraordinary meeting with leaders of political parties on the imperative of peaceful campaigns. We will continue to follow up on that bold step in our engagement with political parties and other critical stakeholders.

 

8. Turning to campaign finance, the Commission is determined to tackle the matter frontally. Areas of violation include party and candidate expenditure beyond what is provided by law and the diabolical practice of vote buying at polling units on Election Day. Here again, the Commission will tomorrow Thursday 24th November 2022 publish a summary of the guidelines on finances and election expenses of parties and candidates. Beyond that, we are mobilising every national institution with the responsibility for tracking and combating the illicit flow of funds as well as the broadcast and print media regulatory agencies to confront the problem head-on. The details of this will be unveiled shortly.

 

9. On technology, the Electoral Act 2022 requires the Commission to deploy technology on Election Day for voter accreditation and the upload of polling unit results to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal. These processes will be achieved through the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS). I wish to reassure Nigerians that the BVAS has come to stay as the only means of voter accreditation. There will be no incident form on election day. Results from polling units will be uploaded to the IReV portal in real-time. Nigerians will view the results as they are uploaded. For the last two years beginning from August 2020, the Commission has published results direct from polling units in 105 off-cycle Governorship and bye-elections in real-time and the results can still be viewed on the IReV portal. The 2023 General Election will not be different. There is no truth in any insinuation to the contrary. This should put to rest the erroneous notion that Nigerians will not have the opportunity to view polling unit results uploaded by Presiding Officers in real-time on Election Day.

 

10. On the collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) for fresh registrations in 2022 as well as applicants for transfer to other polling units and the replacement of damaged or lost cards, we wish to assure Nigerians that the Commission will soon release the timelines and procedure for the collection of PVCs. With the ongoing display of the register for claims and objections, the Commission considered it appropriate to conclude the process so that the cards will not be in the hands of ineligible registrants who may attempt to use them during the election. We understand the anxiety of Nigerians to collect their PVCs and appeal for a little patience as we speedily conclude the necessary safeguards for a transparent process.

 

11. The cleaning up of the voters’ register is critical to elections. We have been transparent in making the register available both online and manual copies in 9,583 locations nationwide (8,809 Wards and 774 Local Government Areas) for scrutiny by citizens as required by law. The voters’ register is the largest database of citizens in Nigeria. Like all databases of this size, it cannot be perfect. However, the Commission believes that Nigerians are the real owners of the voters’ register. They are therefore in a best position to point out ineligible persons on the register, including deceased persons, that will help the Commission to improve on this critical national asset. I want to reassure you that based on the observations made by Nigerians, we will dutifully clean up the register ahead of the election.

 

12. Election is a multi-stakeholder activity. We are working with all stakeholders to deliver credible and transparent 2023 General Election. We are only answerable to Nigerians and will continue to defend the integrity of the electoral process. It is for this reason that we cherish our partnership with the civil society. I wish to reassure you that we will continue to work together for the improvement of our electoral process.

 

13. I thank you and God bless.

 

The National Security Adviser
The Inspector-General of Police
Heads/Representatives of Various Security Agencies
Other Members of ICCES
National Commissioners
Senior Officials of the Commission
Members of the INEC Press Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen

1. Let me welcome you all to this emergency meeting. Two developments this week necessitated this meeting. First, the simultaneous attacks on our Local Government Area offices in Abeokuta South in Ogun State and Ede South Local Government office in Osun State. The attack in Abeokuta South happened around 1.15am while that of Ede happened around 6.00am yesterday Thursday 10th November 2022. Our immediate conclusion is that they may not be isolated, but we leave this determination to the security agencies who are investigating the incidents. Secondly, the spate of attacks during electioneering campaigns by political parties is increasing rather than decreasing.

2. While the damage in the attack in Ede South was minimal, that of Abeokuta South was extensive. Materials destroyed include 904 ballot boxes, 29 voting cubicles, 8 electric power generators, 57 election bags, 30 megaphones, 65,699 uncollected Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and a host of other assorted items such as stamps and stamp pads.

3. The Commission is taking urgent steps to repair the damage to the building and replace the facilities in the Ede South Local Government Area so that the office becomes functional again immediately.

4. For Abeokuta South Local Government Area office, the destruction was total. Consequently, the Commission is relocating our staff to the old State office (also known as INEC Office Annex) in Oke-Ilewo area of Abeokuta. All activities involving the 15 Registration Areas (Wards) and 445 Polling Units in Abeokuta South Local Government Area will henceforth be coordinated from the new location in Oke-Ilewo. Similarly, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Ogun State has been directed to compile the Voter Identification Numbers (VINs) of all the 65,699 Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) lost in the attack from our database and submit the record for immediate reprint. We want to assure affected registered voters in Abeokuta South that no one will be disenfranchised as a result of this dastardly act.

5. Turning to the spate of physical attacks during the ongoing political campaigns and rallies, the Commission has so far tracked 50 incidents across 21 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory. These unhappy occurrences are coming just a little over one month into the election campaign which is scheduled to last for about five months from 28th September 2022 to 23rd February 2023 for national elections (Presidential and National Assembly) and from 12th October 2022 to 11th March 2023 for State elections (Governorship and Houses of Assembly). The Commission is worried that if no urgent and decisive steps are taken, the attacks will intensify as we approach the election date. As we all know, a peaceful campaign heralds a peaceful election. We need to take decisive steps to stem the ugly trend.

6. As a body, the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) brings together security, safety and other agencies responsible for securing the process and ensuring peaceful elections in Nigeria. Understandably, Nigerians expect a decisive action from ICCES. It is important that we move swiftly to apprehend perpetrators, prosecute them as required by law and reinforce security around election officials and electoral infrastructure around the country.

7. As we have stated on several occasions, election is a multi-stakeholder activity involving not just INEC and the security agencies. The political class plays perhaps the most critical role in ensuring peaceful elections. We must all rise to the occasion. Nigerians are watching us. The world is watching us. We must never disappoint them.

8. The Commission wishes to reassure Nigerians that we remain committed to delivering credible elections in spite of the challenges. The attempt to sabotage or weaken our resolve will not deter us from conducting transparent elections in which only the votes cast by Nigerians on Election Day will determine winners of elections.

9. Once again, I welcome you to this emergency meeting and may God bless our efforts.

BAUCHI STATE TRAINING OF TRAINERS (ToT) ON THE DISPLAY OF PRELIMINARY REGISTER OF VOTERS (PRV) HELD AT PROFESSOR MAHMOOD YAKUBU HALL, INEC BAUCHI

 

The State Level Training of Trainers (ToT) on the display of Preliminary Register of Voters (PRV) commenced today 4th November, 2022 at the Professor Mahmood Yakubu Hall, INEC Bauchi.

 

The DG TEI, Dr. Sa’ad Umar Idris during his opening remarks stressed that the State Level TOT was designed to sharpen skill sets, increase self-confidence and equip the AEOs and LGTOs to efficiently step down the training for the Revision Officers (REVOs) and the Assistant Revision Officers (AREVOs) at the LGA LEVEL. He emphasised that the Commission in its effort and commitment to doing everything possible to continue to raise the bar higher to ensure the conduct of free, fair, credible and inclusive elections, needed to ensure that the Preliminary Register of Voters was sanitized as best as possible.

 

The DG noted that the Voter Registry Department in collaboration with the state offices will print the Register of Voters (2011 till date) for display at a Designated Centre in the Registration Area nationwide. Commission staff will then be used for the exercise and supported by National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members from the locality. He restated that there will be two (2) Officers – Revision Officer (REVO) and Assistant Revision Officer (AREVO), at the Registration Area (RA). The REVO will issue forms to any person who wishes to raise either claims or objections. He or she should be able to speak the indigenous language of the locality, to function optimally and proficiently.

 

The Display of the PRV exercise will equally afford the Commission the opportunity to distribute Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to citizens who are yet to collect their cards, when they visit the display centres. He concluded his remarks by stating that the TOT was therefore a critical activity that required both AEOs and LGTOs  to exhibit every sense of diligence and willingness to learn the technicalities and function professionally.

 

The occassion was graced by the Administrative Secretary of the State Alh Zakari Balarabe Musa and his entire HODs. The modules discussed in the training are:

1. Management of the claims and objection

2. Preparing and opening of the center

3. Materials for the exercise

4. Procedure for claims and objection

5. Display and hearing of claims and objection.

 

The training will continue at the LGA level on the 6th November, 2022, where the state Participants will train the REVOs and the AREVOs on how to conduct the upcoming display, claims and Objections.

 

Highlights of the Training:

 

Leaders of Civil Society Organisation

National Commissioners

The Secretary to the Commission

The Director General of the Electoral Institute

Directors and other Senior Officials of the Commission

Members of the INEC Press Corps

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

1. It is my pleasure to warmly welcome you all to our third regular consultative meeting with leaders of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) this year. Since our last meeting on 11th May 2022, there have been several developments, notable among which are the Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections, and the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise as provided by law. Let me say from the outset that the Commission appreciates the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). We have achieved so much working together for electoral reform, citizens’ participation and inclusivity in the electoral process, voter education, campaign for peaceful elections., the advocacy against electoral malpractice such as vote buying and multi-stakeholder engagements on election technology and the management of logistics. Yet a lot of work still lies ahead.

 

2.       With exactly 120 days to the 2023 General Election, we are clearly heading down the home stretch. At a similar consultative meeting with political parties yesterday, I reassured Nigerians of our commitment to credible elections supported by appropriate technology. Voters will be accredited by means of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS). There will be no incident form. Results will be transmitted to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal in real time on Election Day. We are committed to ensuring that the 2023 General Election is transparent and credible, reflecting the will of the Nigerian people.

 

3.      You may recall that after consultation with stakeholders, the CVR commenced with the online pre-registration on 28th June 2021 and continued for thirteen months until its suspension on 31st July 2022. During that period, the Commission gave Nigerians regular weekly update showing the progress of the exercise nationwide, including analysis of the distribution of voters by age, occupation, gender and disability for our planning purposes and for public information.

 

4. At the end of the exercise, 12,298,944 Nigerians successfully completed the registration as new voters. You may recall that the Commission had repeatedly assured Nigerians that our process of cleaning up the register is robust. After a rigorous cleaning-up of the data using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS), a total of 2,780,756 (22.6%) were identified as ineligible registrants and invalidated from the record, among them are double/multiple registrants, underaged persons and outrightly fake registrations that fail to meet our business rules. Consequently, the number of valid registrations (post-ABIS) is 9,518,188. Hard copies of the full details of the distribution of the new voters are included in your folders for this meeting. A copy has already been uploaded to the Commission’s website and social media platforms.

 

5. The Commission deployed thousands of diligent staff for the CVR exercise and the vast majority of them discharged their duties conscientiously. Unfortunately, a few of them did not. The fictitious registrations were carried out by some of our Registration Officers involved in the field exercise and could easily be traced. Each registration machine is operated using an access code tied to a dedicated e-mail assigned to a staff. There is therefore an audit trail that gives the total number of persons registered by each official involved in the registration exercise. In some cases, some of them made as many as 40 attempts or more to register one fake voter. As a result, the Commission has so far identified 23 Registration Officers involved in this unethical conduct and disciplinary action has commenced. We shall continue to protect the integrity of our voters’ register. It is pivotal to credible elections. It is also a national asset and easily the largest database of citizens in Africa and one of the largest in the world.

 

6. The 9,518,188 new voters have been added to the existing register of 84,004,084 voters. The PRELIMINARY register of voters in Nigeria now stands at 93,522,272. It is preliminary because Section 19(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act 2022 requires the Commission to display the hard copies of the register of voters for each Registration Area (Ward) and Local Government Area (and simultaneously publish the entire register on the Commission’s website) for a period of two weeks for scrutiny, claims and objections by citizens not later than 90 days to a General Election.

 

7. Accordingly, in the next few days, the Commission will print 9,352,228 pages of the register. The hard copy will be displayed for each of the 8,809 Registration Areas (Wards) and 774 Local Government Areas nationwide while the entire register will be published on our website for claims and objections as required by law. The display of the physical register will take place at the designated centers from Saturday 12th – Friday 25thNovember 2022. Further details, including the procedure for filing claims and objections, will be released by the Commission next week. I would like to appeal to all Nigerians to seize the opportunity of the display to scrutinize the list and help us to clean it up further so that the final register of voters for the 2023 General Election can be compiled and published.

 

8. The Commission is also working hard to ensure the completion of printing of remaining PVCs for new voters as well as those that applied to transfer or the replacement of their lost or damaged cards. In the coming days, we will also inform Nigerians of the detailed plan to ensure a seamless collection of the PVCs. We are aware that Nigerians expect an improvement in the procedure for PVC collection. Since the end of the CVR in July this year, we have been working to ensure that citizens have a pleasant experience when they come to collect their cards, including collaboration with CSOs for a pilot exercise in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). We are exploring the possibility of scaling up the FCT pilot for nationwide application

 

9. It is clear to the Commission that as the General Election approaches, there will be need for more frequent meetings with CSOs. We hope that in spite of your busy schedules, you will continue to honour our invitation.

by law.

 

10. Once again, I welcome you all to this meeting. I thank you and God bless.

 

The President Nigeria Union of Journalists
Media Executives
National Commissioners
The Secretary to the Commission
The Director General of the Electoral Institute
Directors and other Senior Officials of the Commission
Members of the INEC Press Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen

1. It is my pleasure to warmly welcome you all to our third regular consultative meeting this year. Since our last meeting on 11th May 2022, there have been several developments, notable among which are the Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections and the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise as provided by law. Let me say from the outset that the Commission appreciates the partnership with media executives and media organisations. Already, we have achieved so much working together for electoral reform, voter education, campaign for peaceful elections, the advocacy against electoral malpractices such as vote buying and. Yet, a lot of work still lies ahead.

2. With exactly 120 days to the 2023 General Election, we are clearly heading down the home stretch. At a similar consultative meeting with political parties yesterday, and with civil society organisations this morning, I reassured Nigerians of our commitment to credible elections supported by technology. Voters will be accredited by means of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS). There will be no Incident Form. Results will be transmitted to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) in real-time on Election Day. We are committed to ensuring that the 2023 General Election is transparent and credible, reflecting the will of the Nigerian people.

3. You may recall that after consulting with stakeholders, the CVR commenced with the online pre-registration on 28th June 2021 and continued for thirteen months until its suspension on 31st July 2022. During that period, the Commission gave Nigerians regular weekly update showing the progress of the exercise nationwide, including analysis of the distribution of voters by age, occupation, gender and disability for our planning and for public information.

4. At the end of the exercise, 12,298,944 Nigerians successfully completed the registration as new voters. You may recall that the Commission had repeatedly assured Nigerians that our process of cleaning up the register is robust. After a rigorous cleaning-up of the data using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS), a total of 2,780,756 records (22.6%) were identified as ineligible registrants and invalidated from the record, among them double/multiple registrants, underaged persons and outrightly fake registrations that fail to meet our business rules. Consequently, the number of valid registrations (post-ABIS) is 9,518,188. Hard copies of the full details of the distribution of the new voters are included in your folders for this meeting. A copy has already been uploaded to the Commission’s website and social media platforms.

5. The Commission deployed thousands of diligent staff for the CVR exercise and the vast majority of them discharged their duties conscientiously. Unfortunately, a few of them did not. The fictitious registrations were carried out by some of our Registration Officers involved in the field exercise and could easily be traced. Each registration machine is operated using an access code tied to a dedicated e-mail assigned to a staff. There is therefore an audit trail that gives the total number of persons registered by each staff. In some case, some of them made as many as 40 attempts or more to register one fake voter. As a result, the Commission has so far identified 23 Registration Officers involved in this unethical conduct and disciplinary action has commenced. We shall continue to protect the integrity of our voters’ register. It is pivotal to credible elections. It is also a national asset and easily the largest database of citizens in Africa and one of the largest in the world.

6. The 9,518,188 new voters have been added to the existing register of 84,004,084 voters. The PRELIMINARY register of voters in Nigeria now stands at 93,522,272. It is preliminary because Section 19(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act 2022 requires the Commission to display the hard copies of the register of voters for each Registration Area (Ward) and Local Government Area (and simultaneously publish the entire register on the Commission’s website) for a period of two weeks for scrutiny, claims and objections by citizens not later than 90 days to a General Election.

7. Accordingly, in the next few days, the Commission will print 9,352,228 pages of the register. The hard copy will be displayed for each of the 8,809 Registration Areas (Wards) and 774 Local Government Areas nationwide while the entire register will be published on our website for claims and objections as required by law. The display of the physical register will take place at the designated centers from Saturday 12th – Friday 25th November 2022. Further details, including the procedure for filing claims and objections, will be released by the Commission next week. I would like to appeal to all Nigerians to seize the opportunity of the display to scrutinize the list and help us to clean it up further so that the final register of voters for the 2023 General Election can be compiled and published.

8. The Commission is also working hard to ensure the completion of printing of remaining PVCs for new voters as well as those that applied to transfer or the replacement of their lost or damaged cards. In the coming days, we will also inform Nigerians of the detailed plan to ensure a seamless collection of the PVCs. We are aware that Nigerians expect an improvement in the procedure for PVC collection. Since the end of the CVR in July this year, we have been working to ensure that citizens have a pleasant experience when they come to collect their cards. The media has a pivotal role to play and we appeal to you for your continuous support.

9. As the 2023 General Election approaches, we shall continue to work together to counter disinformation and misinformation. We will remain transparent and provide the required information to combat the triple menace as an antidote to fake news. Therefore, there will be need for more frequent and intense engagements with you ahead of the election. We hope that in spite of your competing activities, you will continue to honour our invitation.

10. Once again, I welcome you all to this meeting. I thank you and God bless.

 

The TEI Executive Management Staff led by the DG, received the Team of Conveners of the National Electorates Awareness Conference who paid a courtesy call on the DG, TEI. The team of Conveners was led by its project Coordinator, Khadijat Sanusi Gumbi.
The Spokesperson for the team, Amb. Olubunmi Fagbayimo in stating the mission of the team said the team was at the Electoral Institute (TEI) to discuss strategic ideas that will lead to collaboration with the Institute in the organisation of the planned National Electorates Awareness Conference (NEAC). He said that NEAC was aimed at massively sensitizing Nigerian electorates in a very creative and unique way about their rights to vote, understanding basic electoral laws and simplifying the recent amendments in the electoral law to help the common man understand the grey areas. He said that the major goal of the conference was to contribute to peaceful growth and oneness in the country prior to the conduct of the 2023 General Election and even thereafter.
He further said that the aim of the Conference was to create awareness to the electorate through a conference. He said the conference would bring groups and associations together, enlighten them on all the necessary information, with the aim that they would thereafter disseminate all that have been learnt to their members in the grassroots. He announced that the key areas in which the team was seeking collaboration with TEI were in the areas of financial partnership and Technical Partnership.
Other members of the group also elaborated further on the purpose of the Conference by saying it would address voter apathy, encourage the development of awareness through social media campaigns.
The DG, TEI Dr. Sa’ad Umar Idris in responding informed the Team that though the Commission’s Voter Education and Publicity (VEP) Department had the main responsibility of sensitization of the public on every electoral matter, the Institute was available to partner with the Team as its core objectives for the conference were also in tandem with the Institute’s purpose, i.e. Training of Stakeholders. He stressed that stakeholders still had a lot to learn and be aware of before the conduct of the 2023 General Election. He particularly observed that voter apathy was very rampant in spite of the access to polling units the Commission had created by the increase in the number of polling units nationwide. He equally stressed that voters still ought to be informed about the technological innovations introduced into voting and election result management.
The DG, TEI assured the visiting Team that he would assist to market the proposed conference to Development Partners whose key objectives include voter sensitization. He advised the NEAC Team to also shop for funding from credible sources. He also promised the availability of the Institute’s facilities (Auditorium and Virtual Library) for use during the conference.
The Team was further advised by other Management Staff to harness the proposal for the conference in the format that Development Partners would easily buy into it. The Institute’s management observed that the proposal’s objectives, methodology, expected outcomes and cost implication should be clearly indicated in the proposal.
The visitors comprised the following:
1) Khadijat Sanusi Gumbi
2) Olubunmi Dayo Fagbayimo
3) Suleimanu Usman Yusuf
4) Mohammed Umar Dankura
5) Maryam Aliman
6) Ojochernemi Bekeboh

The Team was again assured of the readiness of the Institute to support the Conference it any way it could as the meeting ended. The Directors, Training and Research & Documentation were also present at the meeting.
Forwarded below are pictures taken at the visit.
Ag. AS

 

The TEI Executive Management Staff led by the DG, played host to a team from the United States Embassy International Narcotics & Law Enforcement Affairs Unit who were accompanied by USAID and IFES Officials. The Team from the INLEA was led by its Director, Mr. Jason A. Smith.

The Purpose of the visit was generally to dialogue and learn of the various roles and functions of the Electoral Institute (TEI) in preparations for the conduct of the 2023 General Election.

The DG, TEI entertained questions from the visitors on the following:
1) Role of TEI in Training,
2) Training Manual for Adhoc Officials Development and production,
3) Security Training and the attending issues such as the feasibility of training over 500,000 thousand Security Officials that will be required nationwide,
4) The Composition, Structure and Role of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES),
5) The role of the Commission and Board of Electoral Institute to give guidance and approval to all Institute activities and policies.

The DG in his response relayed the structure of policy making in the Commission and emphasized that the Institute was in existence to implement all directives as may be issued by the Commission and the Board of Electoral Institute (BEI)

Regarding Security Training, he also emphasized that it would be a herculean task to undertake the security training of the entire security personnel that would be required for 176,846 Polling Units at the General Election or at any other major election, that is of a lesser magnitude. That was why the Institute, with the approval of the Commission had collaborated with the various security agencies, to review the Election Security Training Curriculum in order for Security Agencies to build in security training into their Training calendar and commence the regular organisation of security training for their officials even before election period.

The DG emphasized the unflinching support the Institute had continually received from Development Partners such as IFES through USAID funding, over the years. He particularly noted the continuous support IFES had always provided through the printing of Facilitators Guide for not only Security Training but other Trainings such as Training for Poll Workers. Again, he noted that where the Commission was unable to produce the required number of Training Manual for Election Officials due to unavailability of funds, Development Partners had often assisted in producing significant copies. He thus expressed deep appreciation to all Development Partners working with the Institute and helping the Institute to succeed.

Lastly, the DG assured the visiting INLEA/IFES Group of circulation of copies of Commission approved Manuals to them as soon as they were available. The visitors comprised the following:
1) Jason A. Smith, Director, INLEA, US Embassy
2) Kimberly Ledesma, Labor Atache, State Department
3) Halima Abubakar, USAID
4) Seray Jah, Country Director, IFES
5) Judith Toryem, IFES
6) Tim Grey, INLEA, US Embassy
7) J. R. Okoli, INLEA, US Embassy
The Directors, Training and Research & Documentation were also present at the meeting. The meeting ended with group photographs (see below) taken at the TEI entrance.

Ag. AS

 

As part of its Post Election activities, R & D Dept, TEI held the above Round Table on the INCIDENCE OF VOTE BUYING/VOTE TRADING on 11th August, 2022.

The event graced by the Chair BEI Prof. Abdullahi Abdu Zuru ably represented by the Hon REC Osun State, Prof Raji Abdulganiy. Mrs Ayo Obe Esq, a renowed Nigeria Lawyer and Human Rights Activist served as Lead Speaker with Dr. Tella Adeniran REC; Ekiti state and Dr. Hakeem Olatunji Tijani of Political and Government Policy Department (NISER) Ibadan, Oyo State serving as Discussants. The Occasion was also graced by the esteemed presence of the DG TEI, Dr Sa’ad Umar Idris who represented by DD R&D Mr Sylvanus Yepe. Also in attendance is Chairman, IPAC Osun State, HODs; INEC Osun, CSOs, Heads of Religious Organisations and other critical stakeholders.

In his welcome remarks, the DG TEI Dr. Sa’ad Umar Idris informed Participants that the Round Table was the Second time the Institute was organising a roundtable on the topic, the first being in December, 2018 where the TEI was privileged to have had Mrs Ayo Obe, Esq as the Resource person/Speaker. He further explained that the Round Table Series was an essential part of the Commission’s deliberate commitment to a continuous engagement with it’s critical Stakeholders on issues central to elections, electoral process and democratic consolidation.

On his part, the Chairman BEI Prof Abdullahi Abdu Zuru in his opening address, welcomed all to the event and conveyed the greetings and goodwill from the Hon Chairman of the Commission Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, the Commission Members, and the entire Staff of the Commission.

Prof Zuru said though, the Commission’s performances at the Ekiti and Osun States just concluded Governorship Elections were largely successful, applauded, and considered free, fair, credible and inclusive by all Stakeholders, nevertheless, that did not mean that the Commission is not worried over nagging issues particularly Vote Buying and Vote Trading which manifested during those elections, which INEC needed to work out solutions in order to achieve optimal performance on the electoral process as the Commission prepares for 2023 General Elections.

Additionally, he informed the participants that the newly signed Electoral Act, 2022 by Mr. President have also strengthened INEC’s capacity to deliver free, fair, credible and inclusive elections. Thus, inputs from the Round Table would help INEC conduct 2023 General Elections without reoccurrence of vote buying and its elimination. The Chair, BEI therefore, stated that the RoundTable with the caliber of the Participants in attendance will provide answers to the following questions and many others:
– What is Vote-buying/Vote-trading?
– How did it manifest itself in Ekiti and Osun states?
– Who were those involved?
– How did it affect the psyche of Ekiti and Osun people?
– What are the implications on our democracy in Nigeria?
– How do we prevent reoccurrence in the conduct of future elections in Nigeria?
He concluded by thanking the Resource person and Discussants for accepting to be part of the important discussion and wished them fruitful deliberations. On that note, he declared the Round Table opened.

The lead speaker, Mrs Ayo Obe, Esq, in her presentation noted that she spoke on this topic extensively after the 2019 General Elections and today she was speaking on the same topic Vote-Buying, but this time specifically on the recently concluded off cycle Governorship Elections in Ekiti and Osun States on one hand and on the other its implications for 2023 General Elections for Democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
However, she said it was tempting to just dust off her 2018 paper and brought up to date for example, the Electoral Act of 2022. However, she noted its well beyond that as the same problem faced years ago during elections was even more visible today. She premised her actionale recommendations on two pieces of advice:
– to make vote buying and selling less costly and attractive, Government should ensure that those involved in vote buying and selling were prosecuted and publicised any convictions and sentences.
– there is strength in number of Voters. She opined that the genuine voters should be encouraged to come out to vote, so that vote buyers will not be able to have their way in affecting the outcome of election results.

She pointed out that many of the issues she highlighted some 4 years ago were still relevant today and it was necessary to consider what she said then and in view of that would be looking at them if there have been any progress in the last 4 years and try to identify where we needed to do more work to ensure that Nigeria’s Democracy is further consolidated through elimination of Vote buying and selling.

Highlights of the Events:

 

The Methodology Workshop organised by TEI commenced on August, 2022 and had in attendance the Chairman of the Board of the Electoral Institute (BEI), Prof. Abdullahi Abdu Zuru and Director General of The Electoral Institute Dr Sa’ad Umar Idris, both ably represented by Deputy Director, Research and Documentation, Mr Slyvanus Yepe, while the REC Ekiti state Dr. Tella Adeniran Abdulrahman was represented by HOD VEP Ekiti, Mr Femi Akinbiyi. Also in attendance was Mrs Odebunmi Rolake, PRO;INEC Ekiti State and the Resource Person for the Workshop, Dr Mike Omilusi from Political Science Department, Ekiti State University.

In his good will message, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Ekiti State said the issue of Vote Buying have been a recurring decimal in the conduct of elections in Nigeria in which Ekiti 2022 governorship election was not an exception. He asserted that the motive behind vote buying is for a candidate to have an advantage over other candidates in an election. To interrogate and proffer solutions to this challenge is the broad aim of workshop. Equally worrisome is voter apathy despite all the different strategies by the Commission and other Stakeholders to encourage mass voter participation by the Commission.

In his welcome address, the DG, TEI welcomed all participants and stressed the importance of the workshop drawing all participant’s attention to the President Muhammadu Buhari recent signing of the new Electoral Act 2022 into law. The Commission considers the Survey as very important more than ever before in order to align whatever data generated with the current innovations that are embedded in the Electoral Act 2022, to be the guiding statue for the Commission even beyond 2023.
To achieve this objective, Field workers or participants for the workshop have been carefully selected to receive proper training before being deployed to the various local government areas in the state to administer the instrument which will be analysed and a report be prepared with actionable recommendations.

The DG enjoined all participants to adopt the principles of professionalism and authenticity in the process of conducting the Survey. He also urged them to remember the ethics of scientific and empirical research and not to fabricate responses. The Commission desires that the challenge of voter apathy and vote buying will be drastically reduced if not eliminated, during the 2023 General Elections. It is therefore hoped that the findings from the Survey will guide the Commission in making effective policies and regulations.

The Chairman, BEI, in his Opening remarks, reiterated to participants that the Survey aimed to provide the Commission with yet another opportunity to examine and profer solutions to some of the problems encountered during the last concluded Ekiti Governorship Elections and to further strengthen some of its policies, processes and strategies for free, fair credible, inclusive, and peaceful 2023 General Elections. He pleaded with the participants to keep in mind that the Survey was about democratic and peaceful election in 2023 geared towards safeguarding the electoral process and delivery of fair, free credible, peaceful and inclusive election. He charged participants to conduct the Survey with the highest sense of integrity, credibility, and transparency. The Chairman BEI thereafter declared the workshop open.

The Resource Person, Dr Mike Omilusi put participants through the Survey instrument design and standardisation, methods and ethical issues. During his presentation, he emphasised the importance of the questionnaire and advised participants to administer the questionnaire to the actual voters that actually registered and have collected their PVCs. He advised them to be polite inorder to get exact information required. He stressed that the questionnaire should not be restricted to the literates only to provide the neccessary balance. He also advised the participants to always seek the consent of respondents and assure them of the confidentiality of their responses. The TEI ICT DO Ola Akogun put participants through the practical session on the Survey Platform and instrument administration before posting the Field Agents to their various Local Government Areas.

The Electoral Institute (TEI) in collaboration with IFES organized a 3 days Workshop on the Review of Election Security Personnel Training Manual and Handbook in preparation for 2023 GE. The workshop commenced on the 9th August, 2022 at BON Hotel, Kano State.

In his opening remarks National Commissioner and Chairman of the Board of the Electoral Institute, Professor Abdullahi Abdu Zuru underscored the importance of the Review Workshop in the light of the prevailing security challenges in the country and the Commission’s effort to conduct elections under the circumstance.

The Chairman BEI while thanking IFES for funding the workshop urged participants to do justice to the given task to guarantee quality training delivery for security personnel in preparation for the 2023 General Elections.

The Director General of The Electoral Institute Dr. Sa’ad Umar Idris in his welcome address described election security as vital to democratic consolidation and growth of the electoral process.

He reiterated the aim of the review Workshop which is to synthesize and improve on the existing Manual and Handbook for the training of Election Security Personnel to establish in-depth understanding of the field of Electoral Security, establish familiarity with the content and consequently attain mastery of the subject matter for quality delivery of Election Security Training as the commission prepares to conduct the 2023 General elections. He expressed confidence that participants would achieve the objective of the Workshop.

Goodwill messages were delivered by The Hon. REC INEC Kano State, Professor Shehu Riskuwa and the Country Director, IFES Mr Seray Jah.

The Hon. REC Niger State, Prof. Sam Egwu who moderated the workshop emphasized the need to develop a pocket size and concise handbook for Security Personnel on election duty.

Participants at the Workshop are drawn from IFES, Management and Staff of Training Department, TEI led by the Director, Training Dr. Binta Mohammed Kasim.
Highlights of the Training:

 

The Training was organized by the Electoral Institute (TEI) in collaboration with the ICT Department with the objective that at the end of the training, participants should effectively operate the BVAS, have the capacity to upload election result on INEC Result portal using INEC Results Viewing Device (IREV) and Coordinate all training activities in line with the 2022 Guidelines and Regulations for the conduct of Elections.

Addressing the participants, the DG, TEI Dr. Sa’ad Umar Idris, urged the participants to take the assignment as a National Service that requires selflessness, commitment and diligence. In his words “Technology has come to stay in the electoral process with the introduction of BVAS, certainly the human interfererence would be drastically reduced”. The DG further admonished participants to focus on the training as it was designed to galvanize their skills to further enhance the credibility of the Electoral process in Nigeria.

The National Commissioner and Chair BEI, Prof. Abdullahi Abdu Zuru, represented by the DG, TEI, while declaring the training open, tasked participants to be good ambassadors of the Commission as they represent the Commission while discharging their duties as Trainers and RATECHs before, during and after the elections at the various Local Government Areas.
He thereafter encouraged the participants to be on top of their game. He appreciated the effort put together by TEI in collaboration with the ICT department to train it’s staff on the processes and procedures of Election with emphasis on the newly introduced Technology driven initiatives.

Mr. Amah Ibom who represented the Director, ICT, Mr. Chidi Nwafor underscored the importance of the training as it is expected to ensure that accreditation of Voters at the forthcoming election is hitch free.

Directors Training, Ag. AS, TEI and other Management staff of TEI and collaborating departments were in attendance at the training. Participants at the training include Headquarters Staff, TEI trainers as well as Local Government Training Officers (LGTOs) of Ekiti State who attended virtually.

Highlights of the Training:

 

A Team from the Center for Forensic Programmes and DNA Studies (CEFPADS) University of Benin visited The Electoral Institute, INEC on Thursday 14th April, 2022.

The Director CEFPADS, University of Benin, Prof. Edeaghe Ehikhamenor, and other members of the team were received by the DG, TEI and other Management Staff of the Institute. The Team were in TEI to explore areas of collaboration between TEI, INEC and CEFPADS of the University of Benin in the application of Forensic Science into the Electoral process.

In his welcome remarks, the DG, TEI welcomed the visiting team and applauded the achievements of the center. He described the visit as a major solid step taken in the right direction and hoped that a framework would be developed after the meeting to highlight what can be done and areas of collaboration especially in the application of Forensic Science to mitigate Vote buying and other challenges in the electoral process.

The Director of the Centre after introducing members of his team appreciated the DG receiving the team. The Director expressed apologies on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin, Prof. Lillian Salami who had to attend to urgent matters and was unavoidably absent at the meeting. He stated further that INEC and CEFPADS can collaborate at three levels: Pre- Election which involves setting up of a forensic document examination verification and screening unit where certificates and documents of candidates of Political parties would be subjected to forensic analysis.
During election where Biometric technology could be combined with forensics to identify the fingerprint of criminal voters and Post election where forensics can be applied to recruitment process to weed off persons who abuse drugs and also to reduce cases of litigation in the Courts.
The Director of the center during the interactive session fielded questions from Directors and other staff of the Institute.
The DG thereafter thanked the team for the visit and promised to present the issues discussed to the Board of the Institute and the Commission for further neccessary directives so as to forge a way forward in the collaborative effort at achieving good governance.

The Director of the center had on his team, Mr. Benos Imoisili
Mrs. Paulyn Imoisili and Cynthia Eduloje.

Some highlights of the visit below:

 

The Electoral Institute, in conjunction with IFES, is holding a 2-day Training on Data Visualization and Presentation for Research and Documentation staff.
The event is holding at Bolton White Hotel, Abuja.

The Training commenced today Thursday 24-25  March, 2022 and had in attendance at the Opening Ceremony,
the Chair, BEI, Prof. Abdullahi Abdu Zuru, Director-General of the Electoral Institute, Dr Sa’ad Umar Idris, Director Research and Documentation, Dr Ibrahim Sani, Director Training, Dr Binta Kasim Muhd and the IFES Deputy Country Director,  Mr Obaje Ukeh.

In his welcome address, the DG, TEI, welcomed all the participants to the training and emphasized on the importance and significance of  data Visualization and Presentation to Research, and how it enables decision makers in organisations like the Independent National Electoral Commission to interrelate the data to find better insights and reap the importance of data Visualization.

The Chair, BEI in his opening remarks ,urged participants to pay rapt attention to the resource persons as they take them through rudiments of data Visualization. The Chair BEI urged the training participants to understand that the Commission expect the Department to design appropriate instruments that interrogate the interests, perceptions, views and expectations of the electorates on the Commission activities and processes and come up with not only appropriate responses, but also graphic means of communicating the responses so that they do not only HEAR but also SEE the point of view of the Commission. He reiterated that since seeing is believing, then there has to be a commensurate intellectual depiction of the explanations of what the Commission does and the viewpoints of the electorates about the commission and it’s activities. Using the advantage of the newly created additional polling Units across the country as an example, He explained that participants are not only to tell the Commission why, but also how to get the electorate to take advantage of the offer. This requires the designing of appropriate instruments that generate qualitative and quantitative data about the reasons why people are not taking advantage and how to make them take advantage; analyzing the data to comprehend the possible reasons for not utilizing the given advantage and how that could be achieved; devising better options for communicating the policy and implementation options to the Commission; and most appropriate means of communicating the policy and implementation options to the Electorate for their buy-in. All these depended largely on
effective usage of the skills acquired today.

Below are highlights of the Training:

Segun Ojumu, Keffi
The Independent National Electoral Commission has said there is need for more robust lection security management as it prepares for the twenty twenty three General Elections.

Professor Abdullahi Zuru, National Commissioner and Chairman of the Board of The Electoral Institute said this in Keffi, Nasarawa State on Wednesday at the start of a three day Workshop on the Integration of Election Security into the Curricular of Training Schools of Security Agencies.

Professor Zuru in his opening address said the Commission has been addressing security challenges in a more coordinated manner in recent elections.
He however said some of the security challenges the Commission has been addressing seem to be recurring in spite of the cascaded training given to security personnel on election duty.

He expressed his hope that the Workshop is set to resolve this challenge by integrating election security into the curricular of training schools of security agencies who are members of the Interagency Consultative Committee on Election Security.

The Director General of The Electoral Institute Dr. Sa’ad Umar Idris in his welcome address described election security as vital to democratic consolidation and growth of the electoral process.

He said
”Arising from the conduct of bye and rerun elections, in the aftermath of the 2019 General Elections, is the realisation that insecurity at elections can mar any election.
There is, therefore, need for security awareness among all cadres of election officials and stakeholders for elections to be rid of security problems which may ultimately culminate in the cancellation of elections or postponement of the elections in areas where there is a breach of the peace or disorderliness just as poor security management opens the elections to a host of risks.

The Commission, through The Electoral Institute (TEI), has institutionalised the development and implementation of a cascaded training of security personnel as a critical component of its training plan”.

He goes on to say reports on the reports on the conduct of security operatives during the General Elections and stand-alone Governorship Elections have shown progressive and commendable improvement in their disposition to electoral training.

”It is believed that the efficiency and effectiveness of security operatives at these Elections owe a lot to the Electoral Security Training conducted by The Electoral Institute (TEI) as reviewed by other critical stakeholders.
In a bid to consolidate on these gains, there is the need to domicile Electoral Security Training courses in the Training Schools of various security agencies who are members of ICCES for security personnel to proactively mitigate against security lapses that may result to electoral violence. The number of untrained Security personnel deployed for Election duty may pose a threat to gains made so far in securing the electoral process as less than 5% of security personnel are usually trained before an election due to funding and other logistic challenges”.

Dr. Said also said the workshop seeks to
”Achieve the development and infusion of courses on election security into the curricula of Training Departments/Institutes of various Security Agencies.
Empower Training Officials of Security Agencies with the requisite knowledge and ability to proficiently deliver training on election security matters.
Discuss ways and manners the Election Security Training can be embedded in the Curriculum of the Training Institute of the Nigerian Security Agencies, eg. National Institute for Security Studies, Police University, etc”.

He ended his address by saying:
however, without prejudice to the stated objectives, this workshop would afford us the opportunity to review the Security Training Manual for elections and the Handbook on Electoral Security for Security Personnel in preparation for the Ekiti State and Osun State Governorship elections scheduled to hold on the 18th of June 2022 and 16th July 2022 respectively as well as the 2023 general elections”.

Participants of the Workshop are drawn from the Police, the Civil Defence, the Department of State Services, the Federal Road Safety Commission, the Federal Fire Service and other security agencies

 

The NSA and Co-Chair of ICCES
Heads/Representatives of various security agencies
Other Members of ICCES
National Commissioners
Secretary to the Commission
Senior Officials of the Commission
Members of the INEC Press Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen

1. I warmly welcome you all to our third regular meeting for this year. You may recall that we also had cause to meet a couple of times in emergency and extraordinary sessions to review our preparations for the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) as well as the Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections. Happily, the two activities passed off peacefully. On behalf of ICCES and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I extend our profound appreciation to all the security agencies for the professional conduct of personnel before, during and after the CVR and the Governorship elections.

2. There are important lessons from the Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections that will help our planning for the 2023 General Election. Synergy among the security agencies facilitated the timely deployment of election materials, the coordinated escort of personnel to various locations before the elections and the effective security at the polling units and collation centres. As a result, polling units opened on time, collation of results started promptly and declarations made in good time. Going forward, Nigerians expect an even better performance during the 2023 General Election. Therefore, a lot of work lies ahead but I am confident that we will do it effectively and professionally.

3. One of the worrisome practices perpetrated during elections by desperate individuals is vote buying and selling at polling units on election day. This Committee has severally discussed this matter. In our determination to curb the menace, the membership of ICCES was expanded to include the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The two agencies have been deploying their operatives during elections and this effort is paying off. For instance, following arrests made during the recent Osun State Governorship election held on 16th July this year, the EFCC made arrests and after investigation found evidence to charge the suspects to court in Osogbo. We are right now working with the EFCC to ensure their prosecution. I wish to commend the EFCC for this initiative and assure them of our support at all times.

4. Beyond vote buying, there must also be decisive action against negative mobilisation, incitement and violence during the electioneering campaign. It is exactly a month since the commencement of campaign by political parties on 28th September 2022, yet the incidents of physical attacks on supporters and destruction of campaign materials across the country is worrisome. At our consultative meeting two days ago, leaders of political parties in Nigeria also complained about the denial of access to public facilities and exorbitant charges in some States for the use of such facilities for the dissemination of their campaign materials, messages and rallies. These attacks and denials are a violation of the Electoral Act 2022 and ominous signs of what will follow as the campaigns enter critical stages. They may also be a prelude to violence on Election Day and beyond. We should tackle the smoke before it snowballs into a major inferno. The effective enforcement of our electoral law is the best way to deal with the menace. We should work together to ensure the arrest and prosecution of violators of the provisions of especially Sections 92 – 93 of the Electoral Act 2022.

5. As the 2023 General Election approaches, we will continue to appraise the security situation in the country and its possible impact on the conduct of elections. We are right now working to harmonise our Election Risk Management (ERM) and Election Violence Mitigation and Advocacy Tool (EVMAT) for a more effective risk assessment and mitigation measures ahead of the General Election. We will continue to share information with the security agencies and most importantly work together to ensure that elections hold peacefully nationwide as scheduled.

6. Beyond the General Election, the Commission has released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the three off-cycle Governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States holding on Saturday 11th November 2022. The Electoral Act 2022 requires the Commission to publish the Notice of Election not later than 360 days before the date fixed for the elections. Beyond meeting the statutory requirements, this will give us ample time to prepare for the elections. Hard copies of the Timetable are included in your folders for this meeting and also published on our website and social media platforms.

7. On the recently suspended CVR, a total of 12,298,944 Nigerians successfully completed the registration as new voters. After a rigorous cleaning-up of the data using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS), a total of 2,780,756 (22.6%) were identified as ineligible registrants and invalidated from our record. Consequently, the number of valid registrations (post-ABIS) is 9,518,188. This figure has been added to the existing register of 84,004,084 voters. The PRELIMINARY register pending the statutory two-week claims and objections by citizens stands at 93,522,272. Thereafter, the register will be finalised and published. Hard copies of the full details of the distribution of the new voters are included in your folders for this meeting. The soft copy has already been uploaded to the Commission’s website and social media platforms.

8. It is clear to the Commission that as the General Election approaches, there will be need for more frequent meetings of ICCES to review or respond to any situation that may arise. The invitations may come at short notice. Please note this reality and plan accordingly.

9. Once again, I welcome you all to this meeting. I thank you and God bless.

 

The NSA and Co-Chair of ICCES
Heads/Representatives of various security agencies
Other Members of ICCES
National Commissioners
Secretary to the Commission
Senior Officials of the Commission
Members of the INEC Press Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen

1. I warmly welcome you all to our third regular meeting for this year. You may recall that we also had cause to meet a couple of times in emergency and extraordinary sessions to review our preparations for the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) as well as the Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections. Happily, the two activities passed off peacefully. On behalf of ICCES and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I extend our profound appreciation to all the security agencies for the professional conduct of personnel before, during and after the CVR and the Governorship elections.

2. There are important lessons from the Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections that will help our planning for the 2023 General Election. Synergy among the security agencies facilitated the timely deployment of election materials, the coordinated escort of personnel to various locations before the elections and the effective security at the polling units and collation centres. As a result, polling units opened on time, collation of results started promptly and declarations made in good time. Going forward, Nigerians expect an even better performance during the 2023 General Election. Therefore, a lot of work lies ahead but I am confident that we will do it effectively and professionally.

3. One of the worrisome practices perpetrated during elections by desperate individuals is vote buying and selling at polling units on election day. This Committee has severally discussed this matter. In our determination to curb the menace, the membership of ICCES was expanded to include the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The two agencies have been deploying their operatives during elections and this effort is paying off. For instance, following arrests made during the recent Osun State Governorship election held on 16th July this year, the EFCC made arrests and after investigation found evidence to charge the suspects to court in Osogbo. We are right now working with the EFCC to ensure their prosecution. I wish to commend the EFCC for this initiative and assure them of our support at all times.

4. Beyond vote buying, there must also be decisive action against negative mobilisation, incitement and violence during the electioneering campaign. It is exactly a month since the commencement of campaign by political parties on 28th September 2022, yet the incidents of physical attacks on supporters and destruction of campaign materials across the country is worrisome. At our consultative meeting two days ago, leaders of political parties in Nigeria also complained about the denial of access to public facilities and exorbitant charges in some States for the use of such facilities for the dissemination of their campaign materials, messages and rallies. These attacks and denials are a violation of the Electoral Act 2022 and ominous signs of what will follow as the campaigns enter critical stages. They may also be a prelude to violence on Election Day and beyond. We should tackle the smoke before it snowballs into a major inferno. The effective enforcement of our electoral law is the best way to deal with the menace. We should work together to ensure the arrest and prosecution of violators of the provisions of especially Sections 92 – 93 of the Electoral Act 2022.

5. As the 2023 General Election approaches, we will continue to appraise the security situation in the country and its possible impact on the conduct of elections. We are right now working to harmonise our Election Risk Management (ERM) and Election Violence Mitigation and Advocacy Tool (EVMAT) for a more effective risk assessment and mitigation measures ahead of the General Election. We will continue to share information with the security agencies and most importantly work together to ensure that elections hold peacefully nationwide as scheduled.

6. Beyond the General Election, the Commission has released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the three off-cycle Governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States holding on Saturday 11th November 2022. The Electoral Act 2022 requires the Commission to publish the Notice of Election not later than 360 days before the date fixed for the elections. Beyond meeting the statutory requirements, this will give us ample time to prepare for the elections. Hard copies of the Timetable are included in your folders for this meeting and also published on our website and social media platforms.

7. On the recently suspended CVR, a total of 12,298,944 Nigerians successfully completed the registration as new voters. After a rigorous cleaning-up of the data using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS), a total of 2,780,756 (22.6%) were identified as ineligible registrants and invalidated from our record. Consequently, the number of valid registrations (post-ABIS) is 9,518,188. This figure has been added to the existing register of 84,004,084 voters. The PRELIMINARY register pending the statutory two-week claims and objections by citizens stands at 93,522,272. Thereafter, the register will be finalised and published. Hard copies of the full details of the distribution of the new voters are included in your folders for this meeting. The soft copy has already been uploaded to the Commission’s website and social media platforms.

8. It is clear to the Commission that as the General Election approaches, there will be need for more frequent meetings of ICCES to review or respond to any situation that may arise. The invitations may come at short notice. Please note this reality and plan accordingly.

9. Once again, I welcome you all to this meeting. I thank you and God bless

 

The President Nigeria Union of Journalists
Media Executives
National Commissioners
The Secretary to the Commission
The Director General of the Electoral Institute
Directors and other Senior Officials of the Commission
Members of the INEC Press Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen

1. It is my pleasure to warmly welcome you all to our third regular consultative meeting this year. Since our last meeting on 11th May 2022, there have been several developments, notable among which are the Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections and the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise as provided by law. Let me say from the outset that the Commission appreciates the partnership with media executives and media organisations. Already, we have achieved so much working together for electoral reform, voter education, campaign for peaceful elections, the advocacy against electoral malpractices such as vote buying and. Yet, a lot of work still lies ahead.

2. With exactly 120 days to the 2023 General Election, we are clearly heading down the home stretch. At a similar consultative meeting with political parties yesterday, and with civil society organisations this morning, I reassured Nigerians of our commitment to credible elections supported by technology. Voters will be accredited by means of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS). There will be no Incident Form. Results will be transmitted to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) in real-time on Election Day. We are committed to ensuring that the 2023 General Election is transparent and credible, reflecting the will of the Nigerian people.

3. You may recall that after consulting with stakeholders, the CVR commenced with the online pre-registration on 28th June 2021 and continued for thirteen months until its suspension on 31st July 2022. During that period, the Commission gave Nigerians regular weekly update showing the progress of the exercise nationwide, including analysis of the distribution of voters by age, occupation, gender and disability for our planning and for public information.

4. At the end of the exercise, 12,298,944 Nigerians successfully completed the registration as new voters. You may recall that the Commission had repeatedly assured Nigerians that our process of cleaning up the register is robust. After a rigorous cleaning-up of the data using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS), a total of 2,780,756 records (22.6%) were identified as ineligible registrants and invalidated from the record, among them double/multiple registrants, underaged persons and outrightly fake registrations that fail to meet our business rules. Consequently, the number of valid registrations (post-ABIS) is 9,518,188. Hard copies of the full details of the distribution of the new voters are included in your folders for this meeting. A copy has already been uploaded to the Commission’s website and social media platforms.

5. The Commission deployed thousands of diligent staff for the CVR exercise and the vast majority of them discharged their duties conscientiously. Unfortunately, a few of them did not. The fictitious registrations were carried out by some of our Registration Officers involved in the field exercise and could easily be traced. Each registration machine is operated using an access code tied to a dedicated e-mail assigned to a staff. There is therefore an audit trail that gives the total number of persons registered by each staff. In some case, some of them made as many as 40 attempts or more to register one fake voter. As a result, the Commission has so far identified 23 Registration Officers involved in this unethical conduct and disciplinary action has commenced. We shall continue to protect the integrity of our voters’ register. It is pivotal to credible elections. It is also a national asset and easily the largest database of citizens in Africa and one of the largest in the world.

6. The 9,518,188 new voters have been added to the existing register of 84,004,084 voters. The PRELIMINARY register of voters in Nigeria now stands at 93,522,272. It is preliminary because Section 19(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act 2022 requires the Commission to display the hard copies of the register of voters for each Registration Area (Ward) and Local Government Area (and simultaneously publish the entire register on the Commission’s website) for a period of two weeks for scrutiny, claims and objections by citizens not later than 90 days to a General Election.

7. Accordingly, in the next few days, the Commission will print 9,352,228 pages of the register. The hard copy will be displayed for each of the 8,809 Registration Areas (Wards) and 774 Local Government Areas nationwide while the entire register will be published on our website for claims and objections as required by law. The display of the physical register will take place at the designated centers from Saturday 12th – Friday 25th November 2022. Further details, including the procedure for filing claims and objections, will be released by the Commission next week. I would like to appeal to all Nigerians to seize the opportunity of the display to scrutinize the list and help us to clean it up further so that the final register of voters for the 2023 General Election can be compiled and published.

8. The Commission is also working hard to ensure the completion of printing of remaining PVCs for new voters as well as those that applied to transfer or the replacement of their lost or damaged cards. In the coming days, we will also inform Nigerians of the detailed plan to ensure a seamless collection of the PVCs. We are aware that Nigerians expect an improvement in the procedure for PVC collection. Since the end of the CVR in July this year, we have been working to ensure that citizens have a pleasant experience when they come to collect their cards. The media has a pivotal role to play and we appeal to you for your continuous support.

9. As the 2023 General Election approaches, we shall continue to work together to counter disinformation and misinformation. We will remain transparent and provide the required information to combat the triple menace as an antidote to fake news. Therefore, there will be need for more frequent and intense engagements with you ahead of the election. We hope that in spite of your competing activities, you will continue to honour our invitation.

10. Once again, I welcome you all to this meeting. I thank you and God bless.

INTRODUCTION
In the build-up to the 2023 General Election, the Electoral Institute(TEI) organized a one-day Training-of-Trainers workshop at the Institute’s auditorium for Trainers that will be involved in the training for the Display of Preliminary Register of Voters (PRV) Exercise for Claims and Objections that will hold immediately from 12th November, 2022, in line with Section 19 and 20 of the 2022 Electoral Act. The Trainers comprised of TEI Trainers, Trainers coopted from the Voter Registry Department as well as State Training Officers (STOs) and Assistant State Training Officers (ASTOs) who joined the ToT via ZOOM.
OPENING FORMALITIES
In his welcome remarks, the Director General of the Institute, Dr Sa’ad Umar Idris, stressed that the TOT was designed to sharpen skill sets, increase self-confidence and equip Trainers to efficiently step down the training for other election officials, especially the Revision Officers (REVOs) and the Assistant Revision Officers (AREVOs). He emphasised that the Commission in its effort and commitment to doing everything possible to continue to raise the bar higher to ensure the conduct of free, fair, credible and inclusive elections, needed to ensure that the Preliminary Register of Voters was sanitized as best as possible.
The DG noted that the Voter Registry Department in collaboration with the state offices will print the Register of Voters (2011 till date) for display at a Designated Centre in the Registration Area nationwide. Commission staff will then be used for the exercise and supported by National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members from the locality. He restated that there will be two (2) Officers – Revision Officer (REVO) and Assistant Revision Officer (AREVO), as mentioned earlier, at the Registration Area. The REVO will issue forms to any person who wishes to raise either claims or objections. He or she should be able to speak the indigenous language of the locality, to function optimally and proficiently.

Dr. Idris also emphasised that the Display of the PRV exercise will equally afford the Commission the opportunity to distribute Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to citizens who are yet to collect their cards, when they visit the display centres. He concluded his remarks by stating that the TOT was therefore a critical activity that required both Trainers and Trainees to exhibit every sense of diligence and willingness to learn the technicalities and function professionally.

In his Opening Speech, the Chair, Board of the Electoral Institute (BEI), Professor Abdullahi Abdu Zuru, represented by DG, TEI, reminded Trainers that the Electoral Act 2022 in Section 19, mandated the Commission to, not later than 90 days before a general election, appoint a period of seven days during which a copy of the voters’ register for each Local Government, Area Council or Ward shall be displayed or published for public scrutiny at every Registration Area and on its official website or any website established by the Commission for that purpose. He observed that registered citizens, therefore, had a dual mechanism by which they would verify their details in the voters register, as they could either visit the designated center in their Registration Area to check the accuracy of their details or visit the Commission’s website to also verify.
The Chair of BEI also observed that where errors, or inaccuracies existed, leading to a claim being made, or where an objection to the inclusion of a name in the register was to be raised, there existed the opportunity to do so at the period for hearing of Claims and Objections. The Chair, BEI emphasized that the display of the Register of Voters for scrutiny would hold for 7 days including Saturday, Sunday and Public holidays, after which, acceptance, consideration and hearing of claims and objections shall be for 14 days (7 days at INEC designated center at RA level and 7 days at LGA office). He also reminded participants of the dates for Claims and Objections at RA level, which was from 12th to 18th November, 2022 while LGA level will be from 19th to 25th November, 2022. He stressed that in short, there will be Twenty-One (21) days for the totality of the exercise.

The Chair BEI, before he declared the Training Open, strongly urged participants to take the training seriously and give it the utmost attention it deserved and also interrogate the process and all anticipated scenarios in the display exercise and in the period of Hearing of Claims and Objections.
Participants at the TOT were taken through various modules namely:
o Management of the Claims and Objections Process;
o Preparing and Opening the Claims and Objections Centre;
Claims and Objections Materials, Forms & Equipment; Display of PRV: Legal Provision
and Methods of Inspection of Claims & Objections, Handling of Claims and Objections, and
Electoral Offences and Penalties.
The TOT ended on a very high note as participants showed enthusiasm and readiness to cascade the training down to the state level. Participants were equally appreciative of the Commission for approving the training and giving participants a chance to be involved in the Voter register management process leading to the conduct of the 2023 General Election.
Highlights of the Training:

 

The Chairmen and Leaders of Political Parties
National Commissioners
Directors and other Senior Officials of the Commission
Members of the INEC Press Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen

1. It is my pleasure to warmly welcome you all to our third regular consultative meeting with political parties this year. Since our last meeting on 10th May 2022, there have been several developments, notable among which are the Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections, the conduct of primaries by political parties for the 2023 General Election, the publication of the final list of candidates sponsored by political parties for the election and the official commencement of electioneering campaign and the suspension of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise as provided by law.

2. Already, we are at the most critical stage in the implementation of the activities in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the General Election. Working with political parties and other stakeholders, the Commission has so far successfully implemented nine of the 14 activities for the General Election. We are also making a steady progress in other critical areas of preparation for the election, including the provision of sensitive and non-sensitive materials, the recruitment of staff and planning for the movement of personnel and materials for the election.

3. Only last week, we commenced the training of master trainers on election technology to ensure a seamless process. Beginning from tomorrow, we will commence the same training at zonal level and subsequently train all the ad hoc staff for the 176,846 polling units nationwide. On this note, let me once again reassure Nigerians that there is no going back on the deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for voter accreditation. There is no going back on the transmission of results to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) in real-time on Election Day. There will be no Incident Form that enables ineligible persons to vote using other people’s Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) during elections. We are committed to ensuring that the 2023 General Election is transparent and credible, reflecting the will of the Nigerian people.

4. The critical foundation for credible election is the voters’ register. You may recall that the CVR which started on 28th June 2021 lasted for thirteen consecutive months until its suspension on 31st July 2022. During that period, the Commission gave Nigerians regular weekly update showing the progress of the exercise nationwide, including analysis of the distribution of voters by age, occupation, gender and disability for our planning purposes and for public information.

5. At the end of the exercise, 12,298,944 Nigerians successfully completed the registration as new voters. All along, we have repeatedly assured Nigerians that our process of cleaning up the register is robust. After a rigorous cleaning-up of the data using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS), a total of 2,780,756 (22.6%) were identified as ineligible registrants and invalidated from the record, among them double/multiple registrants, underaged persons and outrightly fake registrations that fail to meet our business rules. Consequently, the number of valid registrations (post-ABIS) is 9,518,188.

6. In terms of demographic distribution, 7.2 million new voters or 76.5% are young people between 18-34 years while there is a slightly higher number of female (4.8 million or 50.82%) than male (4.6 million or 49.18%) voters. In terms of occupation, 3.8 million (40.8%) are students. Hard copies giving the full details of the distribution of the new voters are included in your folders for this meeting. The soft copy has already been uploaded to the Commission’s website and social media platforms.

7. The Commission deployed thousands of diligent staff for the CVR exercise and the vast majority of them discharged their duties conscientiously. Unfortunately, a few of them did not. The fictitious registrations were carried out by some of our Registration Officers involved in the field exercise and could easily be traced. Each registration machine is operated using an access code tied to a dedicated e-mail assigned to a staff. There is therefore an audit trail that gives the total number of persons registered by each official involved in the registration exercise. In some case, some of them made as many as 40 attempts or more to register one fake voter. As a result, the Commission has so far identified 23 Registration Officers involved in this unethical conduct and disciplinary action has commenced. We shall continue to protect the integrity of our voters’ register. It is pivotal to credible elections. It is also a national asset and easily the largest database of citizens in Africa and one of the largest in the world.

8. The 9,518,188 new voters have been added to the existing register of 84,004,084 voters. The PRELIMINARY register of voters in Nigeria now stands at 93,522,272. It is preliminary because Section 19(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act 2022 requires the Commission to display the hard copies of the register of voters for each Registration Area (Ward) and Local Government Area (and simultaneously publish the entire register on the Commission’s website) for a period of two weeks for scrutiny, claims and objections by citizens not later than 90 days to a General Election.

9. Accordingly, in the next few days, the Commission will print 9,352,228 pages of the register. The hard copywill be displayed for each of the 8,809 Registration Areas (Wards) and 774 Local Government Areas nationwide while the entire register will be published on our website for claims and objections as required by law. The display of the physical register will take place at the designated centers from Saturday 12th – Friday 25thNovember 2022. Further details, including the procedure for filing claims and objections, will be released by the Commission next week. I would like to appeal to all Nigerians to seize the opportunity of the display to scrutinize the list and help us to clean it up further so that the final register of voters for the 2023 General Election can be compiled and published.

10. The Commission is also working hard to ensure the completion of printing of remaining PVCs for new voters as well as those that applied to transfer or the replacement of their lost or damaged cards. In the coming days, we will also inform Nigerians of the detailed plan to ensure a seamless collection of the PVCs. We are aware that Nigerians expect an improvement in the procedure for PVC collection. Since the end of the CVR in July this year, we have been working to ensure that citizens have a pleasant experience when they come to collect their cards.

11. Beyond voter registration and the compilation of the voters’ register, the Commission has released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the three off-cycle Governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States holding on Saturday 11th November 2022. Hard copies of the Timetable are included in your folders for this meeting and also published on our website and social media platforms.

12. Last week, the Commission cautioned political parties, candidates and their supporters to eschew violence during the electioneering campaign. The statement was necessary against the background of clashes among supporters of different political parties, including allegations of denial of access to public facilities and the destruction of billboards and other outdoor campaign materials by acts of thuggery. The campaigns have just begun. As party leaders, you should remain committed to peaceful electioneering. We will continue to work together to remove encumbrances to the right of parties and candidates to freely canvass for the support of the electorate. The Commission will continue to track the campaigns and will not hesitate to initiate the prosecution of violators as provided by law.

13. It is clear to the Commission that as the General Election approaches, there will be need to meet more frequently with leaders of political parties. We hope that in spite of your campaign activities, you will oblige us. In fact, we plan to invite you very soon for a discussion on political rallies and the issue of campaign finance, including the limits on expenses set by the Commission after consultation with political parties.

14. Once again, I welcome you all to this meeting. I thank you and God bless.

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National Commissioners of INEC

The Country Director of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)

Members of the Technical Team

The Director General of the Electoral Institute

Directors of the Commission

Other officials

Members of the INEC Press Corps,

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

1. It is my pleasure to join the Chairman of the Board of the Electoral Institute to welcome you all to this train-the-trainers workshop on election technology. I must say from the outset that this is one of the most important training activities ahead of the 2023 General Election.

 

2. Over the last two years, the Commission has increased the deployment of technology in the elections in Nigeria. Systems and portals have been designed and developed to cater for different electoral activities ranging from voter registration and accreditation, result transmission from the polling units, the nomination of candidates by political parties to the accreditation of polling agents, observers and journalists for elections. Of these innovations, most Nigerians are more familiar with the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) which doubles as a device for accreditation as well as the upload of the Polling Unit level result sheets to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal in real-time on election day. These innovations have increased transparency and public confidence in the electoral process. They are also part of the legal requirements for conducting elections in Nigeria. The combination of the BVAS and the IReV portal have come to stay as a means of voter accreditation and transmission of election results.

 

3. From the experience of recent off-cycle elections, the Commission is convinced that a critical success factor in the deployment of technology in elections is training. We need to build the capacity of the staff involved not only to competently handle the devices during the accreditation process but also respond effectively to any glitches that may occur during elections. Our plan for the 2023 General Election is to commence the training of election officials early and for a longer period of time for optimal understanding of the processes and procedures in order to serve Nigerians better. A key component of this effort is election technology.

 

4. Today, we begin the process with the training of master trainers to serve as Registration Area Technical Support (RATECH). A total of 82 officials drawn from our offices nationwide will form the nucleus of the training. Over the next three days, they will receive intensive hands-on training on the new technology. Thereafter, they will train more officials at zonal level to cover all the 8,809 Registration Areas (or Wards). In turn, these officials will be involved in the training ad hoc staff for the 176,846 Polling Units nationwide.

 

5. I urge the 82 staff involved to pay special attention to the training that you will receive at this Workshop. Your role as master trainers is critical to the success of training at subsequent levels and ultimately the successful deployment of the devices during elections. For this reason, the Commission will not accept laxity on your part. Much as we have confidence in your ability to understand and discharge your responsibilities to the officials you will subsequently train, there will be consequences for unethical behaviour or any act of misconduct. I wish you a successful training.

 

6. Even as the Commission is working hard to ensure a credible process in the forthcoming elections, reports of clashes among parties and their supporters in some States of the country during the ongoing electioneering campaign

is worrisome. So too is the reported denial of access to public facilities for parties and candidates in some States of the Federation. Let me caution parties and their supporters to focus on issues and steer clear of attacks on each other. These are not only violations of the Electoral Act 2022 but also negate the voluntary commitment by all political parties and candidates to the letter and spirit of the Peace Accord signed about three weeks ago under the auspices of the National Peace Committee (NPC). Parties, candidates and their supporters should not by acts of commission or omission further complicate the prevailing security situation in the country. A peaceful electioneering campaign is critical to the conduct of peaceful and credible elections. The Commission will continue to monitor the situation closely and will convene a meeting with leaders of political parties next week to discuss, among the other issues, the imperative of peaceful campaigns and equal access to public facilities. In the same vein, the Commission will also meet with the security agencies under the auspices of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) next week.

 

7. On this note, I would like to extend our appreciation to the development partners for supporting the cascade training on election technology. In particular, I would like to thank the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) for its consistent partnership with the Commission and the Country Director Mr. Seray Jah for his personal presence and Goodwill Message.

 

8. It is now my pleasure to declare the workshop open. I thank you all and God bless.

Goodwill Message by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), delivered by Seray Jah, Country Director, IFES/Nigeria.

 

Delivered at the Training of Master Trainers on Technologies for the 2023 General Elections

held at Ajuji Greenwich Hotel, Abuja-FCT – October 18-20, 2022

The Honorable Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, National Commissioners, Directors, distinguished ladies, and gentlemen. The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is pleased to be part of this very important Training of Master Trainers on Technologies for the 2023 General Elections.

IFES would like to express its appreciation to INEC for its collaboration and openness to receive such support over these past years and for the opportunity to continue our partnership.

This training is significant as it presents a huge opportunity for the Commission to enhance the transparency and credibility of elections through the deployment of technology on a large scale for the conduct of the 2023 General elections, using the Electoral Act 2022. The training would help the Commission to generate a pool of master trainers that will support the cascade training of over 10, 000 technical support staff across the 36 states and the FCT, for the 2023 General elections. The skills gathered here by the master trainers who have been carefully selected by the Commission would be useful in training the Registration Area Technical Support Staff (RATechSS) who will be deployed during the elections to troubleshoot issues arising from technological devices deployed during the 2023 General elections.

Therefore, I want to use this opportunity once again to restate IFES’ commitment to continue partnering with INEC and its members in building a sustainable democracy in Nigeria, INEC can count on our readiness to continually partner with the commission in achieving its mission of serving as an independent and effective Election Management Body committed to conducting free, fair, and credible elections for sustainable democracy in Nigeria.

Finally, I want to extend our appreciation to our donors; the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) for their continuous support and commitment to enhancing credible elections in Nigeria.

On behalf of IFES, I want to applaud INEC for convening this important training and wish the participants/master trainers a fruitful training.

Seray Jah,

Country Director,

IFES Nigeria

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is committed to the improvement of the electoral process;

 

This desire for improvement is driven by the Core Values of the Commission, which has Credibility and Transparency as part of it mission;

 

The application of technology has been a major tool to the achievement of these values;

Different technologies have been applied over the years, and regularly, INEC makes it a point of duty to improve and redefine the technological innovation processes.

The need to have something better and more foolproof propelled this drive for technology refresh.

It is therefore very essential to have a Training of this manner because of the following:

 

1. The need to transfer knowledge is key to the success of any technological advancement. This training will equip participants with the necessary knowledge, skills, competence, and confidence to become an effective Trainer;

 

2. This will enable the Commission to build a pool of competent Trainers who can then impact the knowledge to others;

 

3. There are key processes that have changed – For example the preparation of devices for the Voter Accreditation, the accreditation process itself, the manner in which accreditation data is uploaded, etc. Key Commission’s staff need to be exposed to all these.

 

4. The newly introduced Bimodal Voter Accreditation system(BVAS) and INEC result Viewing Portal (IREV) have been such a huge success since inception, and its continuous success is needed.

 

5. As the 2023 General Elections draw near, the technological processes need to be well understood, as well managed.

The primary aim/objective of the TOT training is to enable the Trainees to be able to

 

i. Organize training sessions for other 2023 Election Technologies Trainers, Registrations Areas Technical Support Staff (RATechSS) and other election officials

 

ii. Lead training sessions which will fully prepare participants to conduct training on 2023 election technologies (ET)

 

iii. Equip participants with skills to use, troubleshoot and maintain ET before, during and after the General Elections.

 

Target Group:

The primary target group of 2023ET training is the RATechSS that are going to be deployed to provide Technical Support to polling units staff, collation staff at RA and LGA levels for the 2023 General elections

 

I wish you all successful deliberations.

 

1. Let me express the appreciation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to The Albino Foundation for the kind invitation to speak at this occasion. The campaign to reduce voter apathy and promote the mainstreaming of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the electoral process is a laudable initiative. I must say from the outset that PWDs are citizens and have the right to participate in all areas of human activity without stigma or discrimination. Their systematic exclusion on account of disability has affected a significant part of the Nigerian population from effective participation in many areas of human endeavour, especially political and leadership roles at all levels. This is unacceptable.

2. The National Population Commission (NPC) estimates that at least nineteen (19) million Nigerians are living with disabilities. From our records, many of them are registered voters. We owe it a duty to our democratic and electoral processes as well as national growth and development to encourage their active participation as citizens with equal rights. They constitute the category of marginalised groups along with women and youths. Therefore, all barriers to their inclusion must be dismantled. In partnership with the disability community, INEC will continue to promote inclusivity, not in a symbolic but practical way. Our emphasis is not just on their participation as candidates during elections in particular but involvement in the electoral process in general. Already, we have taken several practical steps in this direction.

3. I recall that a few years ago, the Commission accredited PWDs as election observers. By this decision, Nigeria became the first country in Africa where PWDs in their own right observed elections beginning with the Edo and Ondo Governorship elections in 2016. The maiden report of their observation entitled “Disability Votes Matter” was launched in October 2017. I am glad to note that PWDs have remained active election observers since then. This is significant because the feedback received from their observation reports helped the Commission to engage more with the disability community at consultative meetings and to respond to their needs during elections.

4. The Commission has launched the INEC Framework on Access and Participation of Persons with Disabilities in the Electoral Process. Beyond that, a new Department of Gender and Inclusivity headed by a Director was established after the 2019 General Election. Working with political parties, we also encouraged them to create PWD Desk Offices. I am glad that some of them have also made provision for PWDs as members of their National Working Committees (NWCs). However, there is so much to do to address the persistent gap in political participation and inclusion of people with disabilities in party leadership and nomination of candidates for elections. I urge parties to do more.

5. One of the progressive provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 is the specific provision on the participation of PWDs in the electoral process. Section 54 provides for assistive and inclusive devices which in a sense has codified some of the initiatives already undertaken by the Commission. The introduction of assistive devices such as the Braille ballot guide, magnifying glasses and posters for the deaf were all products of our engagement with the disability community. In implementing the provisions of Sec. 54 of the Electoral Act 2022, we will continue to engage with the disability community without which the Commission cannot provide the appropriate interventions needed to facilitate their full participation in the electoral process.

6. As we continue to prepare for the 2023 General Election, for us to serve you better, we need more and reliable data on disability, particularly the locations with the largest concentration of PWDs. I am glad that working together, a lot has been generated. On our part, we have also gathered data on disability from the last voter registration exercise disaggregated by type of disability. For instance, we now know the percentages of new registrants with albinism, blindness, hearing challenges, spinal cord injuries, downs syndrome, little stature etc.

7. You may also recall that for the first time in the history of elections in Nigeria, PWDs drawn from the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) participated as Presiding Officers at polling unit level in the last Governorship election in Osun State. Ten (10) of them were trained and deployed. We worked with the NYSC to deploy them on the condition that we guarantee their safety. We appealed to the political parties, their polling agents and voters to cooperate with them and the security agencies to protect them. It was a happy experience. They discharged their responsibilities like all other ad hoc staff. Here, I must commend the leadership of the NYSC which also deemed it appropriate to recognise their contributions by awarding them Certificates of Commendation after the election. In pursuit of our equal opportunities policy for all Nigerians irrespective of disability, we also look forward to other categories of PWDs to serve as Supervisors, Monitors, Collation and even Returning Officers during elections.

8. On accessibility to voting and collation locations for PWDs, we will continue to engage with proprietors of schools and owners of facilities used during elections to provide facilities such as ramps for citizens in wheelchairs. Most of the facilities are public schools. I therefore call on the Governments as well as proprietors and service providers across the country to ensure PWD access to all facilities not just for the purpose of elections but as a matter of responsibility. Wherever they are, PWDs should have unimpeded access to all facilities for education, health care etc. I must add that it does not take much to do so.

9. On this note, I once again commend The Albino Foundation for collaborating with INEC and other relevant Stakeholders for working tirelessly towards enhancing the political participation of PWDs in the electoral process in Nigeria.

10. I wish you a blissful discussion. I thank you all and God bless.

Full text of a keynote address delivered by the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at an event organized by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) at the NED Headquarters, Washington DC, Unites States of America, on Tuesday 11th October 2022.

It’s exactly 136 days to the 2023 General Election. It is the seventh successive general election since the restoration of democracy in Nigeria 23 years ago in 1999. This is the longest unbroken period of democracy and democratic elections since independence from British colonial rule 62 years ago in 1960. We’ve never had this long spell of unbroken period of democracy, democratic governance and elections.

The election is significant because the incumbent President is not eligible to run, this being his second and final term. There are 18 political parties in the race to produce the next President to be elected by 95 million voters. We had over 84 million registered voters in 2019. But with last Continuous Registration of Voters (CVR), we are going to add at least 10 million Nigerians and that will take the Register of Voters to 95 million.

I say this and I won’t be tired of saying it to an audience like this: In West Africa, there are 15 countries including Nigeria. But the total number of registered voters in the 14 countries combined is 73 million. In Nigeria, it’s going to be 95 million. So, there will be 22 million more voters in Nigeria than the whole of West Africa put together. Each time Nigerian goes to the polls, it’s like the whole of West Africa voting. And these 95 million citizens will vote in 176, 846 polling units.

Beyond the presidential election, governorship elections will also hold in 28 out of the 36 states of the country. In eight states, elections are held off season but there will also be elections for all 109 Senatorial districts in the country, 360 federal constituencies, 993 state constituencies and the Presidential, making a total of 1,491 constituencies for which 18 political parties are sponsoring 12,163 candidates. Their names, ages, disability status, academic qualifications, the party they are representing, the constituency they are contesting in are all on our website for both the national and state elections.

The timetable released by the Commission in February this year identified 14 critical activities to be accomplished by the Commission leading to the election day. So far, nine out the 14 activities have been successfully accomplished and campaign by political parties and candidates has commenced nationwide.

We learnt a lot of lessons from the general election conducted in 2015 and 2019 as well as the 103 off cycle elections and bye-elections since the 2019 general elections. We have introduced innovations to increase transparency and ensure credibility of the electoral process. The new Electoral Act with its many progressive provisions has provided legal backing to the innovations. On this note, I’ll like to appreciate the civil society organisations and other stakeholders for the intense advocacy leading to the passage of the new law. We were there before and almost there in 2018, but there was no new law passed, which made it very, very difficult for the Commission, because we were waiting for the Electoral Act to be passed, it wasn’t passed. For that reason we couldn’t conclude our Regulations and Guidelines, which draws from the provisions of the Electoral Act and we could also not speedily conclude our manuals for the training of ad-hoc staff. But we are very happy that this one has been concluded long before the election. It gives us ample time for planning.

These innovations are now provided for and protected by law, especially those leveraging on technology to improve voter registration, voter accreditation, result management and the promotion of inclusivity for marginalized persons such as women, youths and persons with disability.

For the first time in the history of voter registration in Nigeria, citizens were given the opportunity to commence their registration online, book an appointment at their convenience to complete the registration physically at designated centres by going there to capture their facial and fingerprint biometrics. Those who don’t have access to the internet have the option of completing their registration physically at the designated centres. The online option was introduced on the recommendation of many stakeholders, particularly young persons. Some of them approached the Commission and said that “if you can introduce something online so that we don’t have to go the physical centres, it will be very helpful.”

The Commission designed the portal. It was very helpful for us in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the protocol of social distancing. It wasn’t just for the purpose of registration that we introduced a portal. We introduced other portals for things like accreditation of observers, media organisations, nomination of candidates by political parties and nomination of polling agents by parties.

It has also helped us to reduce the level of litigation arising particularly from the conduct of political parties because now it’s an interaction between the party agents and the machines and anytime you logged in and out, there is a time stamp, so you can’t argue. If you argue, we’ll produce the evidence of what happened. And at 6pm on a fixed date,, the portal automatically shuts down. If any party has any problem, it’s not the Commission.

Many citizens seized the opportunity of the online registration during the period of one year between June 2021 and June 2022 when that option lasted. Similarly, the physical registration continued simultaneously with the online pre-registration for a period of one year including a one-month extension in response to appeal by citizens. At the end of the exercise, 12, 298, 944 citizens completed their registration. This is more than the entire voter population in the Republic of Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde. We are such a huge country of great potentials.

We have completed the cleaning up of the data using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) that combines the fingerprint and the facial authentication of registered voters. Those who registered twice, those who are underage or those who had no reason to register as provided by law have been weeded out. The exercise was completed a few days ago. We have not even shared the information with Nigerians, but we have 2.7 million invalid registrants and they have been weeded out. We’ll continue to take steps necessary to protect the integrity of the Register of Voters because it is fundamental to the conduct of elections. There can’t be credible elections without a credible register of voters.

Nigerians have been asking the Commission, when you finish registration and clean-up of the data, what about our Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC)? This will be available for new registrants by next month – November. We are looking at early to the middle of the month to make the cards available. We have already printed over 50 percent of the cards but we haven’t delivered them to the states yet. As we clean the data, we also print the cards. Nigerians who have registered should be rest assured that they will have their cards ahead of the general election. We also need to do so in good time because the law now requires us to publish the number of cards collected per polling unit.

On the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), what we have done basically is to retire our good old Smart Card Reader (SCR). The SCR by definition reads the card. Each biometric card has a chip embedded inside it and in the SCR, you have the sam card. So, there’s a handshake between the sam card and the sim card which enables the SCR to extract the voter’s information from the Permanent Voter Card. But what we have done with the BVAS is to domicile the data of registered voters in a polling unit in the BVAS. So yes, the BVAS also reads the card, but there are a variety of ways of reading the card. If you enter the Voter Identification Number (VIN) of the voter, his/her information pops up. But even if you confirm that the voter is registered and his name has been certified by the BVAS, he or she must go through biometric accreditation using the fingerprint and if this fails, the option of facials is used. And this is also guaranteed by law.

So, what has the BVAS done?

1. It has eliminated multiple accreditation that was observed in previous elections. Now, you are absolutely sure that the person who is accredited is actually the voter and the bearer of the card.
2. It has increased public confidence in the outcome of elections as shown in the recent off cycle elections. People tend to be more confident now with the protection of the process of accreditation using technology.
3. It has eliminated the use of the Incident Form. For those of you who have been following our elections for a long time, when the Card Reader was introduced, the machine would read the card, but it may not read the biometrics. So, when it fails to read the biometrics, they then say – give the voter the Incident Form. And though that, many people voted using identity theft. We have eliminated the Incident Form. So, every registered voter must go through the biometric and the facial, and we jokingly say that the only way the two processes can fail, particularly the facial, is when the voter forgets his or her face at home on election.
4. The system of using the BVAS for the conduct of elections has come to stay. There’s no going back.

Another innovation that we introduced is the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal. We are perhaps one of the few countries in the world that transmits polling unit level results in real time on election day. Proudly, I can say we are the first to introduce it in Africa. I was in Nairobi in August and they did so, but I told my friend, (Wafula) Chebukati, (Chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of Kenya) that he must have borrowed the idea from Nigeria. In 2017, they tried to transmit raw data. But in Nigeria, we say don’t transmit raw data, but transmit scanned images of the polling unit level results which is safer and less susceptible to hacking than transmitting raw figures.

Significance of IReV

1. Results are uploaded from the polling units in real time and this has increased transparency in result management. Some of you here may recall that the Observers’ Reports from 2019 harped on the need for the Commission to ensure transparency in result management. This is our response to the request for greater transparency in result management.
2. It has helped us to eliminate the falsification of results at polling unit level to the collation centres. Sometimes, as the results move from the polling unit level where the election is conducted to the collation centres, some of the figures changed. But now everybody sees the results from the polling unit level and some of the political parties that have their own situation rooms actually know the outcome of the elections even before we make an official declaration. But they still have to wait for our official declaration anyway.
3. We have deployed the IReV in 105 off-cycle and bye-elections. We believe that the system is robust and we are taking additional measures to safeguard and fortify our web resources generally against threats of attack.

Inclusivity

On inclusivity, we have created a new Department of Gender and Inclusivity in the Commission and within the limits of available resources, we have provided Assistive Devices for Persons with Disabilities, such as Braille Ballot Guide and Magnifying Glasses for the vision impaired and those living with Albinism. This was specifically recommended by the Albino Foundation. We work with the Albino Foundation to provide Magnifying Glasses and we work with Inclusive Friends to provide the Braille Jacket, which has the acronyms of political parties in Braille. The person who needs it inserts the ballot paper in the jacket and such person can vote unassisted. But for those who don’t read braille, they can still bring trusted relations on election day.

We have posters for individuals who are hard of hearing because they also complained that “INEC provided Braille Jackets and Magnifying Glasses, what about us? We can see, but we can’t hear, what do we do?” So, the Commission created posters for them which they can read on election day and we’ll continue to give more to ensure inclusivity.

Youths

The enthusiasm is great. Majority of our registrants, 71 percent, are young people between the ages of 18 and 34. So, we are excited just as they are excited. The more we introduce technology, the more they get excited.

Concerns

Are there concerns about the 2023 general election? I’ll be the last to say there are no concerns. The first concern is the perennial issue of insecurity in different parts of the country, compounded by the traditional issues of thuggery during elections organized by some of the political actors. I say it is a perennial issue because at the end of the day, it is nothing new. However, the dimension of the insecurity is concerning in the sense that in the past, it was localized or confined to a particular part of the country, the northeast. But now it is more widespread and we are keeping our eyes particularly on the northwest and the southeastern parts of the country.

Elections are conducted by human beings. We worry about the security of our officials, voters and the materials to be deployed. Without them, we cannot conduct elections. We have spoken to the security agencies, they have assured us that the situation will improve before the elections. So, fingers crossed. Those who are supposed to secure the environment have assured us that they will secure the environment for us to conduct elections. Our responsibility is to conduct elections.

Social Media

The social media has been a force for good. The Commission does not support censorship. We believe that the antidote to fake news is greater transparency and openness and we have been demonstrating greater transparency and openness.

The social media plays a very important role in voter education and deepening democracy but it also has the potential of skewing the narrative with the wrong information that impugn the integrity of officials or seek to delegitimize the Commission and the process either before, during or after the elections. Publication of fake election results is a potential trigger for violence. What we have done is to continue to deepen our cooperation and relationship particularly with the organized social media. In Nigeria, there is a forum called the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP). They have over 80 members and only last week, I was in Lagos and engaged with them. We’ll continue to engage with them. But the problem is not always with the organised online platforms, but with the lone rangers or groups using platforms that complicate matters for everyone.

Chairman of the Occasion
The President, Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, GOCOP
Members of the GOCOP
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

1. Let me discharge my first obligation by thanking the leadership as well as membership of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) for the invitation to speak on the auspicious occasion of your 6th Annual Conference. Many of you here may recall that on 24th November 2021, we had a robust interactive meeting here in Lagos last year in response to your invitation to address you following the successful election of a new leadership of GOCOP chaired by Ms. Maureen Chigbo. As I said on that occasion, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cherishes the support of the online media. We do not take our partnership with GOCOP for granted as a stakeholder and dependable ally in sustaining and deepening our democracy.

2. For this reason, I must commend GOCOP for choosing “2023 Elections: Managing the Process for Credible Outcome” as the theme for this year’s conference. This is most appropriate for a number of reasons. First, the 2023 General Election is fast approaching. It is now 141 days to Election Day. Polling Units will open at 8.30am on Saturday 25th February 2023 for national elections (Presidential and National Assembly) and same time on Saturday 11th March 2023 for State elections (Governorship and State Assembly). Secondly, campaign in public by political parties officially commenced eight days ago on Wednesday 28th September 2022. Therefore, the tempo of political activities has increased as parties, candidates and their supporters commence campaigns, rallies, processions and media advertisement to canvass the support of the electorate. Thirdly, the Commission has published the final list of 15,322 candidates for the General Election contesting for 1,491 seats (one Presidential, 28 Governorship, 109 Senatorial, 360 House of Representatives and 993 State Assembly constituencies).

3. I wish to restate once again the commitment of INEC to credible elections. Votes will continue to count and will be the sole determinant of electoral outcome. For this reason, the Commission has introduced many new innovations, supported by the deployment of appropriate technology, to protect the sanctity of the choice made by Nigerians at the polls ranging from voter registration to voter accreditation and result management. The deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) with its dual fingerprint and facial biometric accreditation process has ensured that only genuine voters are accredited to vote during election. This has curtailed the incidence of multiple voting and other sharp practices associated with voter accreditation during elections. The BVAS has come to stay and will be the only means by which voters will be accredited in the 2023 General Election.

4. Furthermore, the introduction of the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) Portal has made the result management procedure more transparent. Polling Unit results are now uploaded in real-time to the IReV portal for public view. This has enhanced the transparency, credibility and consequently public confidence in the outcome of elections. The IReV has come to stay and polling unit results will be uploaded to the portal in real-time in the 2023 General Election.

5. As campaigns commence, I also wish to remind political parties and candidates that only last week, you all signed the Peace Accord organised by the National Peace Committee (NPC) in which you committed yourselves to peaceful electioneering campaign. I urge you to be guided by the letter and spirit of the Accord.

6. For our part, the Commission will pay particular attention to the conduct of parties, candidates and their supporters. As a regulator, the Commission will play its role to ensure compliance with the provision of the law as well as our guidelines and regulations. We will pay particular attention to peaceful campaign devoid of abusive, intemperate and slanderous language as well as the use of innuendoes or insinuations likely to provoke a counter-reaction resulting in the breach of the peace. Similarly, we will pay special attention to the observance of limits on party and candidate finance. I urge political parties and candidates to carefully study the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and familiarise themselves with their obligations as well as the penalties under the law.

7. As you are aware, election is a multi-stakeholder activity. As the Commission is doing its best to ensure a credible process, we also appeal to the media for continuous partnership. Managing the electoral process for credible outcome is the responsibility of all of us. As campaign activities get underway, the media will continue to play an important role. A lot of the activities will take place in the media of which the new media is a critical player. We must continue to work together against the spread of fake new, misinformation and disinformation that seek to create or exacerbate tension or de-legitimise processes and outcomes.

8. GOCOP must lead a network or alliance of stakeholders to curb fake news engineered by unpatriotic individuals. Fake news is a threat to national security and all hands must be on deck to check it. Managing this process requires in part, concerted efforts. We have noticed that your members have so far steered clear of fake news. We urge you to do more. GOCOP should come out strongly in the battle against fake news which is clearly a challenge to the electoral process going forward. We are happy to note that you have your peer review mechanism using your leaders to regularly remind every member of the need for credible journalism. This is highly commendable. We urge you extend this beyond GOCOP to serve as a bulwark against the menace of fake news.

9. I wish to assure you that for us at INEC, the national interest comes first. We shall not pander to any partisan whims and caprices. We pledge to discharge our duties with the highest sense of responsibility and integrity.

10. Once again, I wish to commend GOCOP for organising this relevant and timely conference. I urge you to continue to work in partnership with the Commission in our shared determination to ensure credible elections in 2023.

11. I thank you and God bless.

1. Let me join our Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Lagos State to welcome you once again to this very important meeting. Some of you here may recall that in 2018, the Commission organised a similar meeting with critical stakeholders ahead of the 2019 General Election. Logisticians, the security agencies, other agencies responsible for facilitating the clearance of election materials at entry ports such as the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Niger Ports Authority (NPA), aviation agencies, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Transport and Logistics, training institutions such as the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT), the private sector such as banks and manufacturers, trade unions, civil society organisations and our development partners. The aim of the meeting was to review the perennial challenges associated with electoral logistics and how to address them.

2. Since then, efforts have been made to improve electoral logistics and election administration in general. The Commission is determined to build on the successes recorded in the recent off-cycle elections in Ekiti and Osun States to improve on the delivery of election materials and the early commencement of polls. In this regard, we welcome the collaboration with Action Aid Nigeria and the development partners in organising this important meeting that has brought all the major players together to deliberate on this critical issue. The Commission is determined to continuously improve on our processes and procedures in order to give Nigerians a pleasant experience on Election Day.

3. In achieving this goal, we need the support and partnership of all stakeholders. By your presence at this meeting, you have demonstrated your willingness to partner with the Commission and we are encouraged by such demonstration of support and commitment to the success of the electoral process as we continue to make steady progress in the implementation of our plans. So far, the Commission has successfully implemented 9 out of 14 activities listed in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election.

4. You may recall that two weeks ago, the Commission published the final list of candidates for national elections (Presidential, Senatorial and House of Representatives). Today, the list of candidates for State elections (Governorship and State Houses of Assembly) will be published in all our offices nationwide and uploaded to the Commission’s website as required by law. For the Governorship election holding in 28 States of the Federation, the 18 political parties have nominated a total of 837 candidates and their running mates. For State Assembly constituencies, 10,240 candidates are vying for 993 seats.

5. With just 143 days to the 2023 General Election, this meeting is timely. With partnership and support from Action Aid Nigeria, we look forward to actionable recommendations that will ensure a seamless logistics for the 2023 General Election.

6. I welcome you all to this interactive meeting. Thank you and God bless.

The Electoral Act, 2022

 

The Electoral Act, 2022 (“the Act”) is a product of multi-stakeholder engagement in the electoral process. It is a product of painstaking engagement with the National Assembly by all the critical stakeholders in the electoral process. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria assented to the Act on the 25th of February 2022 and on the 26th of February 2022 the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 general election. The Commission fixed Presidential and National Assembly elections to take place on the 25th of February 2023 and Governorship and State Assembly elections to take place on the 11th of March 2023.

 

I will discuss some of the new provisions of the Act as well as some provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended) that have direct bearing on the critical stages of the electoral process. I will intersperse the presentation by drawing from the Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022. This presentation is meant to enhance our understanding of some of the issues that are at play and those that may likely dominate electoral and legal discourse as the country advances toward the 2023 general election and beyond.

 

Pre-Election Matters

 

Before the conduct of elections, there are activities that must be undertaken by the Electoral Management Body, political parties, the Government and by the critical agencies and institutions of government. These include the release of the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the Conduct of Elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission. The Continuous Registration of Voters, the conduct of Congresses and Conventions by political parties, the conduct of primaries and the submission of the names of validly nominated candidates; the publication of the names of validly nominated candidates and the withdrawal and substitution of candidates; the conduct of campaigns and rallies by political parties and their candidates; the submission of the names of polling agents by political parties and other sundry activities. These are some of the activities classified as pre-election matters.

 

Section 285 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended) provides a time limitation for the filing and determination of pre-election matters. It also defines pre-election matters to mean any suit by-

 

  • An aspirant who complains that any of the provisions of the Electoral Act or any Act of the National Assembly regulating the conduct of primaries of political parties and the provisions of the guidelines of a political party in respect of the selection or nomination of candidates for an election.

 

  • An aspirant challenging the actions,decisions, or activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission in respect of his participation in an election or who complains that the provisions of the Electoral Act or any Act of the National Assembly regulating elections in Nigeria has not been complied with by the Independent National Electoral Commission in respect of the selection or nomination of candidates and participation in elections; and

 

  • A political party challenging the actions, decisions, or activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission disqualifying its candidate from participating in an election or a complaint that the provisions of the Electoral Act or any other applicable law has not been complied with by the Independent National Electoral Commission in respect of the nomination of candidates of political parties for an election, timetable for an election, registration of voters and other activities of the Commission in respect of preparation for an election.

 

On the other hand, sections 29 and 84 of the Electoral Act 2022 gives exclusive jurisdiction to the Federal High Court to hear and determine matters arising from pre-election disputes as opposed to what obtained with the Electoral Act, 2020(as amended) wherein the High Court of the various State and that of the Federal Capital Territory shared jurisdiction with the Federal High Court relating to pre-election matters.

 

A pre-election matter must be filed within a period of 14 days from the day of the occurrence of the event, decisions or action complained of. The Court of first instance in this case the Federal High Court has a period of 180 days from the date of filing of the matter to deliver its judgement in writing.  By virtue of section 285(12) of the Constitution an appeal from a decision of a court in a pre-election matter shall be heard and disposed of within sixty days.

 

The framers of the Constitution on their own imputed times lines within which pre-election matters must be filed, heard and judgement delivered. The implication is that the times named in the Constitution are cast in stone and therefore immovable. Any deviation renders the matter incompetent for being statute barred and strips the Court of the jurisdiction to hear and or continue to hear or determine the matter. Hence,

 

A cause of action is statute-barred if the legal proceedings cannot be commenced in court because the period laid down by the Limitation Law or Act had elapsed. The effect of an action being statute barred is simply that it renders the action barren and sterile and therefore incompetent, it deprives the court of jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit. So, where an action is statute barred, hearing and determining it on the merit becomes unnecessary.

 

The Question of Locus Standi in pre-election matters

 

Locus standi refers to the right of a person to institute a matter for adjudication in court. It is a threshold issue and unless a person shows his right to present the matter, the courts have no jurisdiction to hear or determine the matter, no matter its merit.

 

The Electoral Act 2022 has narrowed the classes of persons with the requisite standing to sue in pre-election matters. Section 84 of the Act sets out the conditions for the conduct of party primaries. However, section 84(14) of the Act provides that notwithstanding the provisions of the Act or rules of a political party, ANY ASPIRANT who complains that any of the provisions of the Act and the guidelines of a political party have not been complied with in the selection or nomination of a candidate of a political party for election, may apply to the Federal High Court for redress. The emphasis here is on the aspirant and selection or nomination of candidates.

 

On the other hand, section 29(5) of the Electoral Act gives ANY ASPIRANT WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE PRIMARIES OF HIS POLITICAL PARTY the Locus to challenge any document or information submitted by his party’s candidate only as it relates to the candidate’s constitutional eligibility to contest the election.

Section 29 of the Act obligates political parties to nominate and submit the names of candidates that emerged from valid party primaries. The determination of Locus Standi in sections 29 and 84 of the Act must be read and juxtaposed with section 285(14) of the Constitution.

 

Election Planning and Administration

 

Section 9(6) of the Electoral Act 2022 read together with section 19(1) of the same Act provides that the registration of voters, updating and revision of the register of voters shall stop not later than 90 days before any election covered by the Act. The same Act also provides that the Display of the register of Voters shall stop not later than 90 days to a general election. The use of the word, NOT LATER THAN presupposes that the designers of the Act expect the Commission to conclude all activities relating to the registration of voters, the display of the voters register and the updating of the register before the 90-day period mentioned in the Act.

 

Exclusion of the Logo of Political Parties

 

Section 42 of the Electoral Act has cured the mischief and challenges associated with candidates’ exclusion from the ballot. Section 42 of the Act mandates the Commission to invite in writing, a political party that nominated a candidate in the election to inspect its identity appearing on samples of relevant electoral materials proposed for the election and the political party may state in writing within two days of being so invited by the Commission that it approves or disapproves of its identity as it appears on the sample. Failure to point out any omissions or errors in the name, logo or acronym precludes the party from subsequently challenging the outcome of the election on the ground of exclusion. This makes for certainty in election preparation and administration and to prevent last minute intervention by the courts compelling the Commission to include the logo of a party on the ballot or declaring an election as invalid on grounds of exclusion. Where parties have inspected their logo and the Commission still excludes them and makes mistakes relating to their logo after inspection, political parties can however challenge elections conducted within that matrix.

 

On the Issue of Campaigns

 

Political parties will start their campaigns on the 28th of September 2022 for Presidential and National Assembly elections and on the 4th of October 2022 for State elections. The Constitution and Electoral Act 2022 are clear and unequivocal on what political parties and candidates must do and must not do during periods designated for campaigns and rallies.

A political campaign or slogan shall not be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly likely to injure religious, ethnic, tribal, or sectional feelings.Abusive, intemperate, slanderous, or base language or insinuations or innuendoes designed or likely to provoke violent reaction or emotions shall not be employed or used in political campaigns.

Places designated for religious worship, police stations, and public offices shall not be used for political campaigns, rallies, and processions; orto promote, propagate or attack political parties, candidates, or their programmes oror ideologies.

Masquerades shall not be employed or used by any political party, aspirant or candidate during political campaigns or for any other political purpose.

A political party, aspirant or candidate of a political party shall not retain, organize, train, or equip any person or group of persons for the purpose of enabling them to be employed for the use or display of physical force or coercion in promoting any political objective or interest, or in such manner as to arouse reasonable apprehension that they are organized, trained, or equipped for that purpose.

A political party, aspirant or candidate shall not keep or use armed private security organization, vanguard, or any other group or individual by whatever name called for the purpose of providing security, assisting or aiding the political party or candidate in whatever manner during campaigns, rallies, processions or elections.

A political party, aspirant or candidate that contravenes any of the provisions of section (92) of the Act commits an offence and is liable on conviction in the case of an aspirant or candidate, to a maximum fine of N 1,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months; andin the case of a political party, to a fine of N2,000,000 in the first instance, and N 1,000,000 for any subsequent offence.A person or group of persons who aids or abets a political party, an aspirant or a candidate in contravening the provisions of section 92(5) relating to the employment of violence, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N500,000 or imprisonment for a term of three years or both.

Section 93 of the Act also prohibits the use of force violence during campaigns and prescribes still penalties for candidates, aspirants, or persons or group of persons that use force or compel the use of force during political campaigns.

The Regulation of Political Parties

 

Section 29 of the Act gives political parties a total of 180 days to submit the list and personal particulars of their validly nominated candidates. Section 77 of the Act makes it mandatory for every registered political party to maintain a register of its members in both hard and soft copy and make same available to the Commission not later than 30 days before the date fixed for the party primaries, congresses, or convention. Section 82 of the Act makes it mandatory for every registered political party to give the Commission at least 21 days’ notice of any convention, congress, conference or meeting convened for the purpose of “merger” and electing members of its executive committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any of the elective offices specified under the Act and failure of a political party to notify the Commission of any convention, congress, conference or meeting convened aforesaid shall render the convention, congress, conference or meeting invalid. Section 84 of the Act gives political parties the option of conducting direct, indirect or consensus primaries and where a political party fails to comply with the provisions of the Act in the conduct of its primaries, its candidate for election shall not be included in the election for the particular position in issue.Sections 29, 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act govern the withdrawal and substitution of candidates by political parties. Political parties channel their withdrawal to the political party that nominated them and not to the Independent National Electoral Commission. It is the political party that conveys such withdrawal to the Commission within the period specified in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities and in accordance with section 31 of the Act. At the expiration of the period for withdrawals and substitution, no Political party can channel the withdrawal of a candidate and no new candidate can be admitted except in the case of death.

 

Technology in the Electoral Process

 

The Electoral Act2022 has validated the technological innovations deployed by the Commission. It cemented the place of the Smart Card Readers/BimodalVoter Accreditation System (BVAS) in the voter accreditation process, which was hitherto an administrative decision provided in the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections.

 

The Supreme Court applauded the introduction of the Smart Card Readers in the Electoral Process. In the case ofWIKE EZENWO NYESOM v. HON. (DR.) DAKUKU ADOL PETERSIDE & ORS(2016) LPELR-40036(SC)my Lord the Hon. Justice Muhammed posited that

 

it must be appreciated from the outset that Smart Card Reader Machine or simply Card Reader (SCRM for short), is an innovation in our Electoral Process. It was not known, or rather, it was never put in practice before in our political development. From my general reading and my comprehension of the literature surrounding the Smart Card Reader Machine, it appears to me and, put in a concise form, that the Smart Card Reader Machine is a technological device set up to authenticate and verify, on election day a permanent voter’s card (PVC) issued by INEC. Smart Card Reader Machine is designed to read information contained in the embedded chip of the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) issued by INEC to verify the authenticity of the PVC and also carry out a verification of the intending voter by matching the biometrics contained from the voter on the spot with the ones stored on the PVC.INEC’s motive, which became public in introducing the technologically-based device, barring any technical mishap, breakdown or malfunction, was to ensure a credible, transparent, free and fair election for the country.” 

 

This was affirmed in the case of OKEZIE VICTOR IKPEAZU v. ALEX OTTI & ORS(2016) LPELR-40055(SC)where the Supreme Court held Per KEKERE-EKUN, JSC (P. 75, paras. C-E)held that

 

This Court also held that the introduction of the card reader machine has not eliminated manual accreditation of voters. Laudable as the innovation of the Card Reader may be, it is only a handmaiden in the accreditation process. Thus, any attempt to prove over-voting or non-accreditation without reference to the voters registers of the affected Local Government Areas, as in this case, was bound to fail.

 

Section 47(2) of the Act has now domiciled the Smart Card Reader/Bimodal Voter Accreditation Device or any other technological device within the context and framework of the law. It can now be used to prove over voting in the electoral process.Section 47(2) provides that to vote, the Presiding Officer shall use a smart card reader or any other technological device that may be prescribed by the Commission, for the accreditation of voters, to verify, confirm or authenticate the particulars of the intending voter in the manner prescribe by the Commission.

 

Section 50 of the Act provides thatsubject to section 63(here read section 60) of the Act, voting at an election and the transmission of result under the Act shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission. Here, the Commission will transmit polling unit level results using the INEC Result Viewing Portal.

 

Section 60 of the Act mandates the Presiding Officer in an election to count the votes, enter them in the prescribed forms (Form EC8A)  and transfer the result including total number of accredited voters and the results of the ballot in a manner prescribed by the Commission. Section 64(6) of the Act prescribes procedures for the resolution of disputes during collation. Where during collation of results, there is a dispute regarding a collated result or the result of an election from any polling unit, the collation officer or returning officer shall use the following to determine the correctness of the disputed result-

 

  1. The original of the disputed collated result for each polling unit where the election is disputed;
  2. The smart card reader or other technology device used for accreditation of voters in each polling unit where the election is disputed for the purpose of obtaining accreditation data directly from the smart card reader or technology device;
  3. Data of accreditation recorded and transmitted directly from each polling unit where the election is disputed as prescribed under section 47(2) of the Act; and
  4. The votes and result of the election recorded and transmitted directly from each polling unit where the election is disputed, as prescribed under section 60(4) of the Act.

The introduction of technology in the electoral process in Nigeria has been impactful. From the introduction of the Smart Card Readers (SCRs) for authentication of voters to the present Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), the Commission has continued to sanctify the voting process by mitigating incidences of electoral malpractices and strengthening voter confidence in the electoral process.

 

This has solidified the Commission’s position and validated its technological innovations and deployment especially in the area of electronic collation of results.

 

The Commission believes that technology appropriately channeled can reduce pernicious human interference in the electoral process. The Commission rolls out its technological innovations based on its satisfaction of its robustness and fit for purpose. On the basis of this, the Commission has deployed the following for the purpose of enhancing the credibility of the electoral process:

 

  1. INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED) during voter registration (Introduced to improve data capturing at the point of enrolling voters-facials and fingerprints, migrating from the initial mono-biometrics of fingerprints to bimodal biometrics of fingerprints and facials)

 

  1. The Commission consequently introduced the Voter Registration Online Portal. The portal gives voters access to pre-enroll for voter registration, update their details, transfer their registration as well as submit details for permanent Voters Card replacement and location of their Permanent Voters Cards.

 

  1. Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS)-during voter accreditation. The Commission has added facial technology to the existing fingerprint technology. With bimodal authentication, no person can come to vote more than once, as the face of the person would have been captured during authentication.

 

  1. INEC Result Viewing portal (iReV)-during result upload. To improve the openness and credibility of elections, form EC8A filled and signed by each Presiding Officer is scanned or photographed and uploaded to a public domain which can be viewed by the general public.

 

  1. INEC Candidate Nomination Portal (political parties use this portal to upload the list and personal particulars of their validly nominated candidates.

 

  1. Media Accreditation Portal. Media organizations use the portal to apply for accreditation to cover a scheduled election.

 

  1. The Observer Group Portal. Registered domestic election observers, international observers and embassies apply for accreditation to deploy observes to observe scheduled elections.

 

  1. The INEC Political Party Polling Agents Portal. This portal enables political parties to carry out upload and management of polling and collation agents within an integrated system.

 

  1. The INEC Staff recruitment portal –INECPRES for the recruitment of all categories of ad hoc staff to be trained and utilized for the elections.

 

  1. The Commission is developing regulations on result management based on the law and its technological capacity and knowhow.

 

  1. The Commission has for several electoral cycles now developed interactive two way communication platforms for interaction with voters and other stakeholders. This is vide the INEC Citizens Contact Centre (ICCC) – leveraging on its website, myINEC App, dedicated phonelines and its social media handles, all of which leverage on technology. These have become useful tools in the management of the elections especially with logistics and staff deployment and in identifying security and other challenges on election day.

 

Power to Review Declarations and Returns  

Section 65 of the Act gives the Commission the power within seven days to review a declaration and return made where the Commission determines that the said declaration and return was not made voluntarily or was made contrary to the provisions of the law, regulations and guidelines, and manual for the election.

 

The Commission will exercise this power responsibly based on the provisions of the Constitution, the Electoral Act and its Regulations and Guidelines. It is inconceivable that Collation/Returning Officers of the Commission should act independent of the appointing authority. Fortunately, section 27(2) of the Act has made it mandatory that officers appointed by the Commission for the purpose of an election shall perform such functions and discharge such duties as may be specified by the Commission and shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority than the Commission in the performance of their functions and discharge of their duties. The Commission will design clear guidelines on exercising these powers and will rely on reports from its officers before activating its powers under the law.

 

Transparency and Managing Unforeseen Challenges

 

Section 34 of the Act gives the Commission the power to suspend an election for a period of not more than 21 days; in the case of election into a Legislative House and start afresh if the candidate dies and the party sponsoring the deceased candidate has 14 days to conduct fresh primaries,provided that in the case of Presidential or Gubernatorial or Federal Capital Territory Area Council Chairmanship elections, the running mate shall continue with the election and nominate a new running mate.

 

Section 41(3)&(4) of the Act provides that Polling agents shall be entitled to be present at the distribution of the election materials, electronic voting machine and voting devices from the office to the polling booth. Polling agents who attend a polling unit, may be entitled, before the commencement of the election, to have originals of electoral materials to be used by the Commission for the election inspected, and this process may be recorded as evidence in writing, or video or by other means by any polling Agent, accredited observer or official of the Commission. Section 73 of the Act renders invalid any election conducted at a polling unit without the prior recording in the forms prescribed by the Commission of the quantity, serial numbers and other particulars of result sheets, ballot papers and other sensitive electoral materials made available by the Commission for the conduct of the election.

 

Security issues and Concerns

 

Election is a complex activity and in the Nigerian context, there are serious security issues that will impact on the conduct of the 2023 election.  Presently, the Nigerian military is engaged in internal security operations in all the States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is facing challenges of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and hostage taking, secessionist agitations, farmers/herders clashes and a myriad of other challenges.  There are internally displaced persons in several states of the Federation and some of them are in Camps while others are in the houses of friends and relatives. The Commission will recreate the Polling Units and Registration Centres of IDPs encamped in their State and Federal Constituency as well as Senatorial District and State Constituencies and allow them to exercise their democratic mandate of free choice. Hopefully, the security agencies will sufficiently degrade these security challenges to enable deployment of personnel and materials to the affected areas. We must build the confidence of the ad-hoc staff and their parents and guardians that nothing untoward will befall them when they are deployed. The Commission will continue to consult and engage with political parties and security agencies to ensure that nobody deploys violence to the polling units and that violators will be apprehended and prosecuted.

 

The Commission is determined to conduct free, fair and inclusive elections. There are security challenges to be surmounted and the Commission will not allow those challenges to dissuade it from proceeding with the election. The conduct of election in Nigeria demands courage, it demands planning and it demands focus and engagement. The Commission encountered huge security challenges in Anambra State but proceeded and had a good outing. We are confident of engaging all the critical stakeholders in the electoral process before the election and hope that the security challenges will be sufficiently degraded before the election.

 

The Determination of Winners in an Election

 

The determination of the winners of any election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission is governed by the Constitution, the Electoral Act and the Regulations and Guidelines of the Commission. The determination of winners for Presidential and Governorship Elections are governed by a different constitutional and legal threshold from seats in the National and State Assemblies which are simply ‘first pass the post’. By section 134of the Constitution where there are more than two presidential candidates, for a presidential candidate to be declared duly elected, he must securethe highest number of votes cast at the election; and not less than a quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two thirds of all the States in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. In a governorship contest, the candidate must secure the highest number of votes cast and quarters of the votes cast in two thirds of all the Local Government Areas of the State. In the event of a candidate not securing this threshold, the Commission must conduct a second election. Not all the 18 registered political parties sponsoring candidates will participate in this second election. Only two political parties and two candidates will be on the ballot for the second or runoff election. The first will be the presidential candidate that secured the highest number of lawful votes in the Federation. The second is the one amongst the remaining candidates who has a majority of votes in the highest number of States, so however that where there is more than one candidate with a majority of the votes in the highest number of States, the candidate amongst them with the highest total votes cast at the election shall be the second candidate for election.

 

JUDICIAL INTERVENTIONS IN THE ELECTORAL PROCESS

 

The Constitution recognizes that disputes will arise from the process, so entrenched a dispute resolution process to facilitate the prompt and effective resolution of such. The Judiciary is the arm of the state charged with this responsibility. Regrettably, recent developments relating to orders emanating from Courts and Tribunals have thrown up some issues and challenges with fundamental effects on the smooth administration of the process. Some of these include multiplicity of actions even over the same subject matter and parties, forum shopping, abuse of judicial process, conflicting orders from courts of coordinate jurisdiction and refusal to follow judicial precedents even from superior courts (the principle of stare decisis), thus leading to uncertainty. The recent amendments both in the Constitution and the 2022 Electoral Act which limit the time for presentation of cases, those who can institute these cases and the courts with requisite jurisdiction to entertain such cases seem not to have limited the numbers and consequential effect of such. As at today, the Commission has been joined and served with about 500 court processes (and still counting) dealing with pre-election matters. Humungous capital, human and financial resources, not to talk of time, is dedicated to these cases. Such is the profound effect of judicial interventions in our process that some people sometimes refer to as ‘democracy by court order’. While the Commission will continue to strive to ensure that the votes of the citizens determine outcomes of elections, it will continue to engage the judiciary to ensure that the rule of law prevails, and the law is not abused to the detriment of our democracy.

 

CONCLUSION

 

In concluding this intervention, it is important to remind ourselves that delivering a free, fair and credible election is a multi-stakeholder undertaking that must have the cooperation of the civil society organizations, the media, the security agencies and the political parties. The new Act has made far-reaching provisions, setting out the processes and procedures for conducting free, fair and credible election. The Commission will through its policies and guidelines continue to improve on these procedures and processes set out by the Act.

 

But most importantly, the politicians must accept democracy as the best way to produce good and competent candidates. Internal democracy in political parties must not only be entrenched in their constitutions and guidelines, but must be demonstrated practically in their primaries, conventions and congresses and all other party activities. As failure to observe democratic virtues in party politics often impugn on the Commission’s efforts to deliver a universally accepted election.

The Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)
National Commissioners of INEC
Heads of other Agencies of Government
Proprietors of Various Broadcast Organisations
Managers of Various Broadcast Organisations
Critical Stakeholders
Other Invited Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

1. On behalf of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I wish to express our profound appreciation to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for the kind invitation to address this distinguished assembly of owners, managers and stakeholders in the broadcast industry in Nigeria.

2. For us in INEC, this meeting could not have come at a better time. First, the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections is holding in just 151 days on Saturday 25th February 2023, followed by the Governorship and State Assembly elections two weeks later on Saturday 11th March 2023. Secondly, activities for the 2023 General Election as contained in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities released by the Commission on 26th February 2022 have reached the critical stage of implementation. Eight out of 14 activities have so far been successfully implemented. Thirdly, having conducted primaries and nominated their candidates for the 2023 General Election, political parties will begin campaign in public in the next two days i.e. Wednesday 28th September 2022.

3. The 2023 General Election will be taking place against the background of the new Electoral Act 2022. As you are aware, the new law is a repeal and re-enactment of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which governed the conduct of three general elections (2011, 2015 and 2019). However, the forthcoming 2023 General Election is the first time that many aspects of the Electoral Act 2022 will be implemented in a nationwide election. Many aspects of the new law are yet to be properly understood and appreciated by many Nigerians, including the political actors. The broadcast media are critical partners to INEC. While the Commission will continue to deepen its focused engagement with stakeholders, the media play a critical role in ensuring a more effective public enlightenment on the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 in particular and other aspects of the electoral process in general.

4. In the next two days, campaign by political parties in public as provided by Section 94(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 will officially commence nationwide. This means that over the next five months or so, political parties, candidates and their supporters will traverse the country canvassing for votes. They will engage in media appearances and hold townhall meetings, door to door campaigns, rallies and processions. This period is often characterised by excitement as well as anxiety.

5. Therefore, political parties, candidates and their supporters as well as the media have a responsibility to operate within the confines of the law and the provisions of the Commission’s rules and regulations. Issue-based campaign is essential for safe electioneering. In turn, this will create the atmosphere for the successful deployment and conduct of all electoral activities. Campaigns should be devoid of hate speech; abusive, intemperate, or slanderous language; insinuations or innuendoes likely to provoke violent reaction; physical attack on supporters of one party by another or destruction of campaign materials etc.

6. More specifically, Section 95 of the Electoral Act 2022 defines the responsibilities of political parties and candidates, the media and public institutions. It also provides sanctions for violations. For instance, in the course of our numerous interactions with political parties over the years, many have complained about the denial of access to public facilities for meetings and rallies, exorbitant charges for signages and billboards, and equal access to State media. Using the power of incumbency to deny opposition parties access to public facilities is illegal. Section 95 Subsections 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are unambiguous and worth quoting verbatim as follows:

95(2) “State apparatus including the media shall not be employed to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election.”

95(3) “Media time shall be allocated equally among the political parties and candidates at similar hours of the day.”

95(4) “At any public electronic media, equal airtime shall be allotted to all political parties or candidates during prime times at similar hours each day, subject to the payment of appropriate fees.”

95(5) “At any public print media, equal coverage and visibility shall be allotted to all political parties.”

7. Failure to comply with the provisions of the law attracts sanctions against both the media organisation and its principal officers as clearly provided for in Section 95(6) as follows:

95(6) “A person who contravenes subsections (3) and (4) commits an offence and is liable on conviction, in the case of –

(a) a public media, to a fine of N2,000,000 in the first instance and N5,000,000 for subsequent conviction; and

(b) principal officers and other officers of the media house, to a fine of N1,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of six months.”

8. As campaigns start, the media has a huge responsibility. We have all been talking about issue-based campaigns. I believe that the media has a critical role to play in this respect. Equitable access to the media for all political parties and candidates is essential to the promotion of issue-based campaigns. By doing so, the media will also steer the discussion and engage the candidates away from the mundane to the critical issues that matter to citizens. Consequently, the public will be in a better position to make informed decisions on Election Day.

9. Beyond the commencement of campaigns by political parties, I would like to seize this opportunity to appeal to the media to continue to fact-check stories before going to press. Politics is an intensely partisan activity. The media and INEC stand for neutrality.

10. I urge you to continue to abide by the ethics of the profession anchored on the law, the regulations and guidelines published by INEC and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Code. I wish to assure you that we will continue to engage with the NBC and broadcast stations. We will, as always, continue to provide you with the necessary information to make your work of informing and educating citizens easier. I also wish to reiterate our commitment to the nation that the Commission will do everything within its power to ensure that the 20223 General Election is free, fair, credible, transparent, inclusive and verifiable.

11. On this note, let me once again appreciate the NBC for the invitation to speak at this important forum.

12. Thank you all and God Bless.

National Commissioners of INEC
Representatives of various security agencies and other members of ICCES
Representatives of various civil society organisations
International Development Partners
Our Resident Electoral Commissioners
Administrative Secretaries and other officials of the Commission
The media
All other Invited guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

1.​ I welcome you all to this validation workshop. You may recall that ahead of the 2015 General Election, the Commission introduced the idea of voting by Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). For this reason, a policy and framework designed by the Commission was revised and validated in 2018 for the 2019 General Election. Today, the same policy has been revised and is being presented to stakeholders for review and validation in preparation for the 2023 General Election.

2.​ The idea is to ensure that no eligible Nigerian is left out of the electoral process on account of displacement, disability or other circumstances that may limit citizens’ participation in the electoral process. What is presented to stakeholders today has taken into consideration several developments since the last review and validation exercise in 2018. First, is the increased number of IDPs as a result of widespread insecurity nationwide. Secondly, to incorporate not only the displaced citizens arising from armed conflicts but also natural emergencies such as flooding. Thirdly, to align the framework with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, specifically Section 24(1) which empowers the Commission to ensure that, as far as practicable, no Nigerian is disenfranchised on account of displacement by emergency situations. Finally, to align the framework with the national policy on internally displaced persons 2021.

3.​ I invite you all to contribute to the discussion at this validation meeting. What is presented to you is essentially a draft. We look forward to your input so that working together, we can enrich the framework as well as the regulations for voting by IDPs. Beyond the validation of the document, we also look forward to a robust collaboration with stakeholders for voter education and sensitisation of IDPs.

4.​ While we always appreciate our collaboration with all stakeholders, it has become necessary to make an important clarification in respect of a statement attributed to a section of the civil society organisations. At a media briefing yesterday, the Commission was accused of failure to display the voters’ register as provided by Section 19(1) of the Electoral Act 2022. This claim is incorrect.

5.​ What the Commission displayed for claims and objections in our Local Government Area offices nationwide for a period of one week, from 15th – 21st August 2022, was not the entire register of voters but the list of fresh registrants at the end of the Fourth and last quarter of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise covering the period from 11th April – 31st July 2022. This has been the practice for several years. Earlier, the Commission had displayed the register three times: 24th – 30th September 2021 (First Quarter), 24th – 30th December 2021 (Second Quarter) and 26th March – 1st April 2022 (Third Quarter). A comprehensive schedule of the CVR exercise and the display of the register was shared with stakeholders at our quarterly meeting just before the inception of the exercise in June last year.

5.​ We wish to assure Nigerians that the Commission will display the comprehensive register in all the 8,809 Wards and 774 Local Government Areas/Area Councils nationwide as envisaged in Section 19(1) of the Electoral Act 2022. This will integrate fresh voters registered under the last CVR exercise to the existing register of over 84 million voters. The date will be announced as soon the Commission completes the ongoing Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) to weed out all double/multiple as well as ineligible registrants. We appeal to some of our friends in civil society to be guided accordingly.

6.​ On this note, I would like to appreciate our development partners for the continuous encouragement and support as well as all stakeholders for your presence. We look forward to your contributions to enable us enrich and finalise this important document ahead of the forthcoming 2023 General Election.

DAI is the implementor of Component 1 of the EU financed second phase of EUSDGN which has the overall objective to foster functioning pluralistic, inclusive, participatory, and representative. democracy in Nigeria.

EUSDGN is implemented through 6 components

1) Support to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) DAI

2a) Support to the National Assembly and Judiciary (PLAC)

26) Support to National Assembly and Youth (Yiaga Africa) 3) Support to Political Parties (Kukah Centre)

4) Support to the Media (IPC and IMS) 5a) Support to Women’s political participation (NWTF and ElectHER)

5b) Support to PWDs and IDPs (Albina Foundation) and

6) Support to Civil Organizations (CSOs) and other Non-State Actors

DAI is pleased to have the opportunity to work with INEC and IFES to assist the IDP community in Nigeria to work with INEC on a better regulatory framework which allows IDP to make use of their dempcratic rights to vote as described in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human rights, Article 21 which says

everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives” and through “periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal suffrage”

The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement were agreed to by the United Nations in 1998:

Principle 1(1), which states that IDPs “shall enjoy in full equality, the same rights and freedoms under international and domestic law as do other persons in their country. They shall not be discriminated against in the enjoyment of any rights and freedoms on the ground that they are internally displaced.”

With the IDP policy framework INEC is showing their commitment to international treaties and conventions. INEC has since the election in 2015 continuously reviewed and improved the IDP voting regulatory framework and the result of the latest review is the document INEC presents today for validation.

I want to thank the honorable Chairman of INEC to have invited DAI to participate in this important

meeting and the EU delegation to have provided us with the means to support INEC and the IDP
community. Thanks also to the INEC team and IFES with whom we have worked on the preparations

for this event.

I wish everyone a blessed day and fruitful deliberations:

Thank you

1.0 PREAMBLE

Internal displacement in Nigeria is the result of a multitude of complex and often overlapping triggers (such as natural disasters for instance floods and earth movements/erosion) on the one hand, and on the other, conflicts such as insurgencies, activities of non-state armed groups (NSAGS) and criminal gangs, as well as inter-communal violence/conflicts. As a result of the displacement, most people find themselves in Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) camps, and these people need to exercise their voting franchise.

In its drive to promote the concept of inclusivity, the Commission initiated and successfully managed the participation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the 2015 General Election. The initial effort in 2015 was limited to the cover only the three Northeastern states where a State of Emergency (SOE) was declared, (i.e. Adamawa, Borno and Yobe), in response to the displacements that the insurgency had caused.

For the 2019 General Election, which was the second period, a broader and more robust framework was developed and implemented to cover areas where displacements were triggered by factors other than insurgency, such as natural disasters, herders/farmers conflict as well as communal crises. This expansion increased the affected states from three (3) in 2015 to fifteen (15) states in 2019 as shown in annexure (in the tables attached).

The broadening of the IDP framework is critical because of the growing population of displaced Nigerians that is estimated at 3.228,000 as at the end of 2021 as shown in Table 1 below.

Total number of IDPs and Conflict Internal Displacements

Conflict/ Internal Displacements

5,000

5,000

Total number of IDPs

Country/ Territory

ISO3

Year

NGA

Nigeria

2009

NGA Nigeria

2010

NGA

Nigeria

2011

65.000

NGA Nigeria 2012

63.000

NGA Nigeria Nigeria

2013 3,300,000 470,000

NGA

2014

1,075,000

975,000

NGA Nigeria

2015 2,096,000 737,000

NGA

Nigeria Nigeria 2017 1,707,000 279.000

2016

1,955,000

501,000

NGA

NGA

Nigeria Nigeria

2018

2,216,000

$41,000

NGA

2019 2,583,000 248,000

NGA

Nigeria

2020

2,730,000 169,000 3,228,000

NGA Nigeria 2021

376,000

Source: 2009-2021 Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)

As part of its preparations for the 2023 General Election, and in accordance with Committee to review its IDP Policy Framework in line with current realities. Consequently, the Committee on the Review of the Internally Displaced Persons” Voting Framework (TCR-IDPVF) embarked on the process of systematically revising the Framework and gathering data on IDPs, including the identification of affected polling units and wards/registration areas, so as to plan on how best to provide them with electoral services across the States of the Federation where displacements had occurred.

its core commitments, the Commission reconstituted its 2018 IDP Technical

2.0 THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK GUIDING IDP VOTING

The legal framework for IDP voting derives powers from both the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022. Thus, the Commission, drawing powers from Section 160 (1) of the Constitution as well as Section 24 (1) of the Electoral Act, developed and revised the IDP Voting Framework. Section 160 (1) for instance empowers the Commission by rules or otherwise, to regulate its own procedures or confer powers and impose duties on any officer or authority for the purpose of discharging its functions. Similarly, Section 24 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022, empowers the Commission to, “In the event of an emergency affecting an election, the Commission shall, as far as practicable, ensure that persons displaced as a result of the emergency are not disenfranchised.” The Commission drew on both provisions to design the Framework to ensure that

IDPs are provided with an opportunity to exercise their rights as citizens.

3.0 DATA OF IDPS IN NIGERIA

Basic facts sourced from (Updated profile of the IDP situation in Nigeria – Nigeria | ReliefWeb) indicate that Nigeria has over the past four years seen a dramatic increase in communal violence, conflicts, herder-farmers clashes, banditry, as well as natural disasters. Together, these pockets of violence have caused a humanitarian situation and increasing levels of internal displacement comparable to some of the better-known African emergencies.

For instance, in the North-East, the 13-year conflict has shattered lives, infrastructure, basic services, and the social fabric. In the North-West and North Central regions, although the violence and displacement are rooted in disputes over land, resources, banditry and other forms of criminality, the situation has become exacerbated by climate change, as shown in Table II below:

YEAR

Country

No. IDPS

Refugees to TABLE II: Evolution of IDPs & Refugee Status in Nigeria

Nigeria

107

of New IDPs

Refugees from Nigeria

2016

Nigeria

1,955,000

501,000

2017 Nigeria 1,707,000 279,000

2018

Nigeria Nigeria

2,216,000

541,000

2019

2,583,000 2,583,000 401,619 2020 Nigeria 2,730,000 169,000

2021

Nigeria

3,228,380

375,552

Sources: www.areno countries africanigenal

64,694

331,101

361,498

10,574

35,680

55.199

68,853

425,993

466,770

78,788

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), AND Interally Displacement

Monitoring Centre (IDMC)

OREVIEW OF THE PROGRESS MADE IN 2019 & 2022 IDP VOTING The measure of progress and achievements of the Commission on the

FARMEWORK

Review of IDP voting framework is better appreciated when compared to what was obtained in 2019 and what is currently planned for the 2023 General Election as outlined in the following table:

S/N

1

Table II-OVERVIEW OF IDP FRAMEWORK (2019 & 2022)

The 2019 IDP Voting

The 2023 IDP Voting

Framework

Framework

An inter-agency task force on IDPs – special Technical. Committee on IDP voting (IDP-VC) was set-up on 22nd October 2018 to produce the Regulations for voting by IDPs, and Framework for Voting by

The IDP committee -The Committee

on the

Review

of Internally

Displaced Person

Voting

Framework (TCR-IDPVF) was inaugurated on the 9th of June, 2022.

IDPs

2

The multi-agency Technical

The TCR-IDPVF was reconstituted with both new members and members of the previous 2018 Special Technical Committees on IDP Voting’ who are still in active service of the Commission.

Committee on IDP voting (IDP- VC) set up by the Commission drew lessons from the 2015 efforts and consulted with the immediate past members of the committee.

3

Identification of IDPs extended to include communal banditry. herder & farmers conflicts- only 15 states benefitted from IDP voting.

Identification of IDPs extended to clashes, include communal clashes, banditry, herder & farmers conflicts ete to include all affected states.

Sections 77 (2) and 117 (2) of the Constitution entitle every citizen of voting age to be registered as a voter.

5

6

7

Section 160(1) of the Constitution

empowers the Commission by rules or otherwise, to regulate its own procedure or confers powers and impose duties on any officer or authority for the purpose of discharging its functions.

The Electoral Act (2010 as amended) Sections 42, 46 and 58 empower the Commission to create Polling Units, determine their locations, relocate them and allot voters to Polling Units. Units. Amendment of the Electoral Act [Section 26(1)] 2015 as amended: “in the event of an emergency affecting an election, the INEC shall, as far as possible, ensure that persons displaced as a result of the emergency are not disenfranchised”

Validation of the Framework & Regulations documents for voting by IDPs was on the 12 of December 2018

The Electoral Act 2022 Sections 40(2), 44 and 56 empower the Commission to create Polling Units, determine their locations, relocate them and allot voters to Polling

Section 24(1) of the Electoral Act 2022: “In the event of an emergency affecting an election, the Commission shall, as far as practicable, ensure that persons displaced as a result of the emergency are not disenfranchised.”

INEC has moved from reactive activity to planned programme involving all relevant stakeholders as evident in the early constitution of the IDP Committee and an early programme for the validation of the Revised Framework & Regulations for Voting by IDPs today the 6th of September, 2022.

Voting in IDP camps for intra-state. (BVAS to be used and configured strictly to Polling Unit)

8

Voting in IDP camps for intra state at RA level
9

INEC Voter

System (IVAS)-Smart Reader (SCR) was used for voter authentication on election day

10

Authentication The bimodal Voter Authentication Card System (BVAS) will be used. It authenticates eligible voters either via the thumbprint or a facial recognition system.

Creation of voting points where registered voters exceed threshold of 750 voters.

Voting will be done at Polling Units a in IDP camps, and in other identified secure/accessible central locations to the IDPs.

The Commission’s revised IDP Framework and Regulations provides a template for IDP voting operations not just in conflict zones, but also in areas of population displacements that may have been affected by non conflict factors. This Policy Framework further elaborates and reinforces the Commission’s commitment:

(i) to the conduct of free, fair, credible and inclusive elections in

Nigeria: (ii) to propagate, deepen and sustain the knowledge of sound democratic election practices in which the protection of the rights of all citizens to participate in the electoral process regardless of disability status are protected;

(i) to ensuring that as much as possible, internally displaced

populations are afforded the opportunity to exercise their

rights as enshrined in international and national conventions

and laws; (iv) to align the 2022 IDP Framework with the Electoral Act, 2022 as well as with the Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022.

Today’s meeting is aimed at presenting the Framework to stakeholders to review and suggest improvements. This validation meeting is therefore critical, for it aims to take in the suggestions from field officers directly working with IDPS

across the country in order to improve the Framework. Certainly, this will send encouraging signals to the IDP communities dotted across the nation that their participation in the electoral process is valuable and will be protected by the Commission.

Thank you for your attention.

Dr. Baba Bila

Chairman, TCR-IDPVF, 2022

6th September 2022

The INEC National Commissioners
The Resident Electoral Commissioner
Our Invited Resource Persons and Election Experts
Friends from Civil Society Organisations
Our Development Partners
The Secretary to the Commission
Director General of our Electoral Institute
Directors and Administrative Secretaries
All Other Officials of the Commissions
The Media
Ladies and Gentlemen

1. Let me join the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Lagos State, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje, to welcome you all to this retreat, the purpose of which is to review recent elections, particularly the Ekiti and Osun off-cycle Governorship elections and lessons learnt for improved performance in the 2023 General Election. For us in INEC, every election (be it bye-election, off-cycle election or General Election) is special and an opportunity to improve our service delivery to citizens. We believe that by doing so, vital lessons are learnt arising from which we review and improve our processes and procedures.

2. Some of you here may recall that in the aftermath of 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 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.

3. By organising today’s retreat, the Commission has sustained the tradition of reviewing our elections to learn lessons for improvement of future elections. The truth is that in last one decade or so, the conduct of elections in particular and the management of the electoral process in general have become more complex. Voting populations have become larger and more diverse in terms of their voting needs and expectations. The introduction of technology has made election 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 programmes, 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 marginalised groups (women, youth, persons with disability and IDPs) and ensure greater transparency in result management and result collation processes.

4. Over the last two Electoral Cycles (2011-2015 and 2015-2019), the Commission made concerted efforts to respond to these diverse and complex needs. Significant improvements have been recorded in the conduct of elections. Overall, elections have become better organised and more transparent. Consequently, there is a huge public expectation to sustain this trend and raise the bar ever higher. The willingness of civil society organisations, election experts and development partners to work with the Commission to further improve on our processes is a great source of encouragement. We are fully aware of the reality that good elections have resulted in even greater expectations on the Commission to do better.
5. The recent Ekiti and Osun off-cycle Governorship elections provide the background to this retreat. In both elections, we were prompt and proactive in the level of implementation of our pre-election activities such as training, storage facilities, printing of the voters’ register, the receipt of non-sensitive materials, preparation of the Registration Area Centres (RACs), deployment and configuration of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), coordination with the security agencies and the management of electoral logistics. Similarly, the opening of Polling Units (PUs) and the commencement of polls was impressive, a fact also reported by many election observation groups.
6. However, while the Commission draws vital lessons from the conduct of the most recent off-cycle elections, managing the forthcoming General Election is huge. The voter population, number of polling units, election personnel, security considerations, logistics and so on are enormous. For instance, compared to the General Election, the Ekiti and Osun voter population constitutes just 3.27% of the total number of registered voters; 5.94% of the number of Local Government Areas, 5.77% of Registration Areas (or electoral Wards) and only 3.51% of PUs nationwide. Conducting a General Election will be an entirely different experience but the principles remain the same. Afterall, following the successful conduct of the Ekiti Governorship, some people wondered if the same can be repeated in Osun because of its much bigger size and population. As it turned out, Osun was an improvement on Ekiti. This gives us confidence that working on the same principles, the General Election will also be successfully delivered.
7. Our task at this retreat is to review the Ekiti and Osun elections as we prepare for a bigger and more complex General Election. Staff of the Commission, representatives of civil society organisations, election experts and development partners will deliberate on a variety of issues. We should be free to identify challenges and proffer actionable recommendations on how the Commission can build on the success of recent elections in the forthcoming General Election.
8. Over the next few weeks, we will also intensify our consultations and engagement across the country. For instance, the Commission will be meeting with the National Peace Committee under the leadership of our respected former Head of State General Abdulsalami next week ahead of the commencement of campaign by political parties on 28th September 2022. Similarly, in the first week of October 2022, the Commission will organise a major discussion on electoral logistics involving logisticians, security agencies, labour unions and other critical stakeholders.

9. Once again, I welcome you all to this retreat. We remain appreciative of the support of our development partners and all stakeholders for accepting your kind invitation to participate. As always, I am confident that you will speak freely, frankly and constructively in order to provide the Commission with actionable recommendations for the continuous improvement of our electoral process.

10. I thank you all and God bless.

OBJECTIVES AND EXPECTATIONS
Commission Retreat on the Ekiti And Osun Off-Cycle Governorship Elections: Lessons for the 2023 General Election Lagos, Wednesday 14th September 2022

The Ekiti and Osun Off-cycle governorship elections were conducted on 18 June and 16 July 2022 respectively. Both elections were governed by the Electoral Act 2022 and the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022 that contained several new provisions and innovations with significant impact of the electoral processes. The elections were not only adjudged by all stakeholders to be free, fair, transparent and credible, but the outcome of the electoral contests was seen to be a true reflection of the wishes of the electorate. This perception not only elevated public trust in INEC it imbued the Commission with confidence on 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 includes release of the calendar and schedule of activities more than a year to 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, 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. These efforts were led by the Chairman who visited the two State twice, first to undertake a readiness assessment and meet with critical stakeholders and thereafter to undertake the usual joint INEC/NPF engagement with stakeholder.

The main objective of this retreat is to evaluate the conduct of the Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections from the initial state of preparedness to its execution. While it is unusual to undertake such review outside of the context of a General Election, the significance of the two Governorship elections cannot be underestimated within the context of the new electoral legal framework and the number of new measures and innovations that were introduced by the Commission in the conduct of the elections. In doing so, it is important to undertake a comprehensive review and analysis of the application of the new and progressive provisions in the Electoral Act 2022, the new measures and innovations in the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022 and the Training Manual for Electoral Officials and the effectiveness of the optimisation of the BVAS functionality for quick and seamless voter accreditation process.

Therefore, in the course of the retreat, it is necessary to acknowledge the successes achieved, identify the challenges encountered and learn vital lessons in preparation and implementation of activities for the 2023 General Election. It is for this reason and we in this room the Commission and its officials, including some of the Supporting Resident Electoral Commissions that were responsible for the planning and conduct of the election. We also have with us leaders of Civil Society Organisations that not only directly witness the election but also gained useful insight from the report of the array of observers deployed to the field by the Organisations during the election. So also, are our Development Partners whose support will be required in addressing some of the identified challenges. We look forward to hearing their critical assessment of the 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 impact of insecurity on elections, rising costs occasioned by inflation, fluctuations in 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 behaviour 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 learnt 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 Director, Centre for Democracy and Development
Representatives of various security agencies and other members of ICCES
National Commissioners of INEC
Representatives of various civil society organisations
The media
Invited guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

1. On behalf of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I would like to appreciate the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) for yet again providing a platform for stakeholders to discuss a very important enabler to the full participation of citizens in the electoral process i.e. election security. By bringing together experts, senior security officials and the INEC leadership to share experience and discuss security concerns ahead of the 2023 General Election, CDD hopes to kickstart further collaborative engagements among stakeholders around the security challenges ahead of the election.

2. I have no doubt in my mind that today’s meeting meets the twin tests of relevance and timeliness. The meeting is relevant because of the volatile security situation in some parts of the country and its implications on the forthcoming elections. It is timely because the election is fast approaching but there is still time to address the security concerns ahead of the election. Most appropriately, I believe that arising from the shared experience of participants at this meeting, specific recommendations will be made to further enrich our understanding of the security issues in the forthcoming election, the various dimensions of the challenges and, most importantly, possible measures to respond to them to ensure that elections peacefully hold nationwide as required by law.

3. The Commission welcomes this initiative and as Co-Chairman of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), there is no doubt that the security agencies also welcome ideas and citizens’ support towards peaceful elections. Afterall, only recently the office of the Inspector General of Police organised a nationwide capacity-building for police personnel on election security. The Police was not only motivated by the same concern of ensuring a secure environment for the election but also enhancing the professionalism of police personnel on election duty.

4. Activities towards the 2023 General Election will enter the critical stages this month. In the next 19 days i.e. on 20th September 2022, the Commission will publish the final list of candidates for national elections (Presidential, Senatorial and House of Representatives) as provided in Sec. 32(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 and the Timetable and Schedule of Activities released by the Commission. This will be followed on 4th October 2022 by the publication of the final list of candidates for State elections (Governorship and State Houses of Assembly). Campaign in public by political parties will officially commence on 28th September 2022 as provided by Sec. 94(1) of the Electoral Act 2022. As campaigns commence, we appeal to all political parties and candidates to focus on issue-based campaigns. This is the best way to complement our efforts to ensure transparent elections in which only the votes cast by citizens determine the winner.

5. Once again, I appreciate the CDD for organizing this meeting and thank the security agencies and other stakeholders for supporting this initiative.

6. God bless.

1. On behalf of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I would like to thank the Honourable Chairman and Honourable Member of the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters in particular and the leadership of the National Assembly in general for organizing this public hearing. Coming about four months after a similar public hearing on the same Bill by the Senate Committee on INEC held on 28th April 2022, this is the closest the nation has come to the passage of the long overdue National Electoral Offences Commission Bill into law. I hope in the next few months, the National Assembly will pass the Bill so that it will not suffer the fate of previous efforts which were inchoate at the end of the lifespan of the Assembly.

2. The Bill for an Act to establish the National Electoral Offences Commission is a critical legislation. It has been part of all national conversations on constitutional and electoral reforms for the last 13 years. The Justice Mohammed Uwais Committee on electoral reforms recommended it in 2009, echoed by the Sheikh Ahmed Lemu Committee following the post-election violence of 2011 and, most recently, by the Senator Ken Nnamani Committee on Constitutional and Electoral Reform in 2017. Similar recommendations are contained in reports of police investigations, INEC administrative enquiries, court judgments, reports by the National Human Rights Commissionas well as several accredited election observers.

3. It is clear that the reform of our electoral process cannot be complete without effective sanctions on violators of our laws. At present, INEC is saddled with the responsibility of prosecuting electoral offenders under the Electoral Act. This has been very challenging for the Commission. For instance, since the 2015 General Election, 125 cases of electoral offences were filed in various Courts out of which 60 convictions have been secured so far, including the most recent one in Akwa Ibom State.

4. The Commission would like to see more successful prosecution of offenders, not just ballot box snatchers, falsifiers of election results and vote buyers at polling units but most importantly, their sponsors. We look forward to the day when highly placed sponsors of thuggery, including high-profile figures that seek to benefit from these violations, are arrested and prosecuted. We believe the work of the proposed Commission will help in this regard.

5. However, much as the Commission would like to see more successful prosecution of offenders, our effort is hampered by obvious constraints. INEC is basically an electoral commission with extensive responsibilities which include the registration and regulation of political parties, the monitoring of party and campaign finance, their primaries, congresses, meetings and conventions; nationwide Continuous Voter registration (CVR) and the maintenance of the national register of voters; creation of polling units; delimitation of electoral constituencies; voter education and publicity; management of electoral logistics; recruitment, training and deployment of election duty officials. Other responsibilities include the conduct of numerous off-cycle and bye-elections; new innovations to promote inclusivity and electoral integrity; election security in consultation with the security agencies; strategic engagement with stakeholders; formulation of regulations, guidelines and manuals for the conduct of elections and electoral activities to give clarity to the provisions of the Constitution and Electoral Act; and maintenance of extensive physical assets (offices, residential accommodation and other facilities) nationwide. In many jurisdictions, some of these responsibilities are carried out by distinct and autonomous agencies.

6. In addition to these responsibilities, the Commission is required to prosecute electoral offenders. However, the Commission’s incapacity to arrest offenders or conduct investigation that leads to successful prosecution of especially the high-profile offenders, led to the suggestion to unbundle the Commission and assign some of its extensive responsibilities to other agencies as recommended by the Uwais and Nnamani Committees.

7. For those who argue that the solution does not lie in expanding the federal bureaucracy by creating a new Commission, we believe that the National Electoral Offences Commission should be seen as an exception. While there are other security agencies that deal with economic and financial crimes, I am yet to hear anyone who, in good conscience, thinks that it is unnecessary to have established the anti-corruption agencies.

8. We have studied the 46 Clauses of the Bill under consideration and made 16 comments. I would like to touch on two Clauses and make a general observation while submitting our detailed comments to the Committee. First is Clause 33 (1) of the Bill which confers jurisdiction on Federal, State and FCT High Courts to try offenders under the Bill. However, these Courts are already over-burdened. It is proposed that Electoral Offences Tribunal be established with exclusive jurisdiction to try electoral offenders. The second is Clause 44 which empowers the Attorney-General of the Federation to make rules or regulations for the Commission. Conferring additional power to any other body may cause friction or conflict with the Commission which should be independent in the discharge of its functions even if doing so requires consequential amendment to other laws of the Federation to empower the Commission and guarantee its independence. In any case, Clause 1(2)[c] of the Bill grants the Commission power to make its own rules and regulations. Thirdly, because work on the Bill started before the passage of the current Electoral Act into law, all references to the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), for example Clause 39(1), should be replaced with relevant provisions of Electoral Act 2022.

9. Once again, the Commission commends the leadership of the National Assembly, as well as the Chairman and Honourable Members of the Committee on Electoral Matters for the invitation to this public hearing.

10. Thank you and God bless.

Protocol

Let me start by commending the commitment of the Commission to inclusivity in the electoral process and in response to stakeholders’ requests in organizing IDP voting operation in the State of Emergency (SOE) states for the 2015 and 2019 general elections.

One of the strong lessons from the exercise was the absence of a clear legal provision in that regard. Nonetheless, the efforts of the Commission subsequently yielded fruits in the amendment of the Electoral Act 2022, Section 24(1) which provides: “in the event of an emergency affecting election, the an Commission shall, as far as possible, ensure that persons displaced as a result of the emergency are not disenfranchised”. The legal provision provided an excellent foundation upon which to build a sustainable and strategic framework for IDP voting in Nigeria.

The policy document proposed by INEC to guide the conduct of IDP voting operations and bring the IDP communities into the
voting net stakeholders. is worth applauding and support from all

There is need to also improve on the framework and the Regulations and Guidelines for Voting by Internally Displaced Persons which will drive IDP voting operations for the 2023 general elections.

The Commission should draw lessons from the 2015 and 2019 experience and efforts made and also consult with other knowledge holders at state and national levels, and also in consideration of International best practice. That will ensure that the framework document and the Regulations and Guidelines, are grounded on practical realities.

In all truth, the overarching guiding principle for the IDP framework by the Commission is a demonstration of commitment to inclusivity which is consistent with the avoidance of discrimination in our electoral process.

INEC’s commitment to its mission to serve as an independent and effective Electoral Management Body committed to the conduct of free, fair, and credible elections for sustainable democracy in Nigeria is not in doubt as it ensures that persons displaced as a result of emergency are not disenfranchised.
Once again, I commend your efforts on voting rights of Internally Displaced Persons and wish you success in carrying out your objectives.

Thank you.

AN OVERVIEW OF THE REVISED 2022 FRAMEWORK FOR IDP VOTING, PRESENTED BY THE CHAIRMAN, TCR-IDPVF-DR. BABA BILA

1.0 PREAMBLE

Internal displacement in Nigeria is the result of a multitude of complex and often overlapping triggers (such as natural disasters for instance floods and earth movements/erosion) on the one hand, and on the other, conflicts such as insurgencies, activities of non-state armed groups (NSAGS) and criminal gangs, as well as inter-communal violence/conflicts. As a result of the displacement, most people find themselves in Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) camps, and these people need to exercise their voting franchise.

In its drive to promote the concept of inclusivity, the Commission initiated and successfully managed the participation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the 2015 General Election. The initial effort in 2015 was limited to the cover only the three Northeastern states where a State of Emergency (SOE) was declared, (i.e. Adamawa, Borno and Yobe), in response to the displacements that the insurgency had caused.

For the 2019 General Election, which was the second period, a broader and more robust framework was developed and implemented to cover areas where displacements were triggered by factors other than insurgency, such as natural disasters, herders/farmers conflict as well as communal crises. This expansion increased the affected states from three (3) in 2015 to fifteen (15) states in 2019 as shown in annexure (in the tables attached).

The broadening of the IDP framework is critical because of the growing population of displaced Nigerians that is estimated at 3.228,000 as at the end of 2021 as shown in Table 1 below.

Total number of IDPs and Conflict Internal Displacements

Conflict/ Internal Displacements

5,000

5,000

Total number of IDPs

Country/ Territory

ISO3

Year

NGA

Nigeria

2009

NGA Nigeria

2010

NGA

Nigeria

2011

65.000

NGA Nigeria 2012

63.000

NGA Nigeria Nigeria

2013 3,300,000 470,000

NGA

2014

1,075,000

975,000

NGA Nigeria

2015 2,096,000 737,000

NGA

Nigeria Nigeria 2017 1,707,000 279.000

2016

1,955,000

501,000

NGA

NGA

Nigeria Nigeria

2018

2,216,000

$41,000

NGA

2019 2,583,000 248,000

NGA

Nigeria

2020

2,730,000 169,000 3,228,000

NGA Nigeria 2021

376,000

Source: 2009-2021 Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)

As part of its preparations for the 2023 General Election, and in accordance with Committee to review its IDP Policy Framework in line with current realities. Consequently, the Committee on the Review of the Internally Displaced Persons” Voting Framework (TCR-IDPVF) embarked on the process of systematically revising the Framework and gathering data on IDPs, including the identification of affected polling units and wards/registration areas, so as to plan on how best to provide them with electoral services across the States of the Federation where displacements had occurred.

its core commitments, the Commission reconstituted its 2018 IDP Technical

2.0 THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK GUIDING IDP VOTING

The legal framework for IDP voting derives powers from both the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022. Thus, the Commission, drawing powers from Section 160 (1) of the Constitution as well as Section 24 (1) of the Electoral Act, developed and revised the IDP Voting Framework. Section 160 (1) for instance empowers the Commission by rules or otherwise, to regulate its own procedures or confer powers and impose duties on any officer or authority for the purpose of discharging its functions. Similarly, Section 24 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022, empowers the Commission to, “In the event of an emergency affecting an election, the Commission shall, as far as practicable, ensure that persons displaced as a result of the emergency are not disenfranchised.” The Commission drew on both provisions to design the Framework to ensure that

IDPs are provided with an opportunity to exercise their rights as citizens.

3.0 DATA OF IDPS IN NIGERIA

Basic facts sourced from (Updated profile of the IDP situation in Nigeria – Nigeria | ReliefWeb) indicate that Nigeria has over the past four years seen a dramatic increase in communal violence, conflicts, herder-farmers clashes, banditry, as well as natural disasters. Together, these pockets of violence have caused a humanitarian situation and increasing levels of internal displacement comparable to some of the better-known African emergencies.

For instance, in the North-East, the 13-year conflict has shattered lives, infrastructure, basic services, and the social fabric. In the North-West and North Central regions, although the violence and displacement are rooted in disputes over land, resources, banditry and other forms of criminality, the situation has become exacerbated by climate change, as shown in Table II below:

YEAR

Country

No. IDPS

Refugees to TABLE II: Evolution of IDPs & Refugee Status in Nigeria

Nigeria

107

of New IDPs

Refugees from Nigeria

2016

Nigeria

1,955,000

501,000

2017 Nigeria 1,707,000 279,000

2018

Nigeria Nigeria

2,216,000

541,000

2019

2,583,000 2,583,000 401,619 2020 Nigeria 2,730,000 169,000

2021

Nigeria

3,228,380

375,552

Sources: www.areno countries africanigenal

64,694

331,101

361,498

10,574

35,680

55.199

68,853

425,993

466,770

78,788

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), AND Interally Displacement

Monitoring Centre (IDMC)

OREVIEW OF THE PROGRESS MADE IN 2019 & 2022 IDP VOTING The measure of progress and achievements of the Commission on the

FARMEWORK

Review of IDP voting framework is better appreciated when compared to what was obtained in 2019 and what is currently planned for the 2023 General Election as outlined in the following table:

S/N

1

Table II-OVERVIEW OF IDP FRAMEWORK (2019 & 2022)

The 2019 IDP Voting

The 2023 IDP Voting

Framework

Framework

An inter-agency task force on IDPs – special Technical. Committee on IDP voting (IDP-VC) was set-up on 22nd October 2018 to produce the Regulations for voting by IDPs, and Framework for Voting by

The IDP committee -The Committee

on the

Review

of Internally

Displaced Person

Voting

Framework (TCR-IDPVF) was inaugurated on the 9th of June, 2022.

IDPs

2

The multi-agency Technical

The TCR-IDPVF was reconstituted with both new members and members of the previous 2018 Special Technical Committees on IDP Voting’ who are still in active service of the Commission.

Committee on IDP voting (IDP- VC) set up by the Commission drew lessons from the 2015 efforts and consulted with the immediate past members of the committee.

3

Identification of IDPs extended to include communal banditry. herder & farmers conflicts- only 15 states benefitted from IDP voting.

Identification of IDPs extended to clashes, include communal clashes, banditry, herder & farmers conflicts ete to include all affected states.

Sections 77 (2) and 117 (2) of the Constitution entitle every citizen of voting age to be registered as a voter.

5

6

7

Section 160(1) of the Constitution

empowers the Commission by rules or otherwise, to regulate its own procedure or confers powers and impose duties on any officer or authority for the purpose of discharging its functions.

The Electoral Act (2010 as amended) Sections 42, 46 and 58 empower the Commission to create Polling Units, determine their locations, relocate them and allot voters to Polling Units. Units. Amendment of the Electoral Act [Section 26(1)] 2015 as amended: “in the event of an emergency affecting an election, the INEC shall, as far as possible, ensure that persons displaced as a result of the emergency are not disenfranchised”

Validation of the Framework & Regulations documents for voting by IDPs was on the 12 of December 2018

The Electoral Act 2022 Sections 40(2), 44 and 56 empower the Commission to create Polling Units, determine their locations, relocate them and allot voters to Polling

Section 24(1) of the Electoral Act 2022: “In the event of an emergency affecting an election, the Commission shall, as far as practicable, ensure that persons displaced as a result of the emergency are not disenfranchised.”

INEC has moved from reactive activity to planned programme involving all relevant stakeholders as evident in the early constitution of the IDP Committee and an early programme for the validation of the Revised Framework & Regulations for Voting by IDPs today the 6th of September, 2022.

Voting in IDP camps for intra-state. (BVAS to be used and configured strictly to Polling Unit)

8

Voting in IDP camps for intra state at RA level
9

INEC Voter

System (IVAS)-Smart Reader (SCR) was used for voter authentication on election day

10

Authentication The bimodal Voter Authentication Card System (BVAS) will be used. It authenticates eligible voters either via the thumbprint or a facial recognition system.

Creation of voting points where registered voters exceed threshold of 750 voters.

Voting will be done at Polling Units a in IDP camps, and in other identified secure/accessible central locations to the IDPs.

The Commission’s revised IDP Framework and Regulations provides a template for IDP voting operations not just in conflict zones, but also in areas of population displacements that may have been affected by non conflict factors. This Policy Framework further elaborates and reinforces the Commission’s commitment:

(i) to the conduct of free, fair, credible and inclusive elections in

Nigeria: (ii) to propagate, deepen and sustain the knowledge of sound democratic election practices in which the protection of the rights of all citizens to participate in the electoral process regardless of disability status are protected;

(i) to ensuring that as much as possible, internally displaced

populations are afforded the opportunity to exercise their

rights as enshrined in international and national conventions

and laws; (iv) to align the 2022 IDP Framework with the Electoral Act, 2022 as well as with the Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022.

Today’s meeting is aimed at presenting the Framework to stakeholders to review and suggest improvements. This validation meeting is therefore critical, for it aims to take in the suggestions from field officers directly working with IDPS

across the country in order to improve the Framework. Certainly, this will send encouraging signals to the IDP communities dotted across the nation that their participation in the electoral process is valuable and will be protected by the Commission.

Thank you for your attention.

Dr. Baba Bila

Chairman, TCR-IDPVF, 2022

6th September 2022

OBJECTIVES AND EXPECTATIONS
Commission Retreat on the Ekiti And Osun Off-Cycle Governorship Elections: Lessons for the 2023 General Election Lagos, Wednesday 14th September 2022

The Ekiti and Osun Off-cycle governorship elections were conducted on 18 June and 16 July 2022 respectively. Both elections were governed by the Electoral Act 2022 and the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022 that contained several new provisions and innovations with significant impact of the electoral processes. The elections were not only adjudged by all stakeholders to be free, fair, transparent and credible, but the outcome of the electoral contests was seen to be a true reflection of the wishes of the electorate. This perception not only elevated public trust in INEC it imbued the Commission with confidence on 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 includes release of the calendar and schedule of activities more than a year to 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, 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. These efforts were led by the Chairman who visited the two State twice, first to undertake a readiness assessment and meet with critical stakeholders and thereafter to undertake the usual joint INEC/NPF engagement with stakeholder.

The main objective of this retreat is to evaluate the conduct of the Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections from the initial state of preparedness to its execution. While it is unusual to undertake such review outside of the context of a General Election, the significance of the two Governorship elections cannot be underestimated within the context of the new electoral legal framework and the number of new measures and innovations that were introduced by the Commission in the conduct of the elections. In doing so, it is important to undertake a comprehensive review and analysis of the application of the new and progressive provisions in the Electoral Act 2022, the new measures and innovations in the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022 and the Training Manual for Electoral Officials and the effectiveness of the optimisation of the BVAS functionality for quick and seamless voter accreditation process.

Therefore, in the course of the retreat, it is necessary to acknowledge the successes achieved, identify the challenges encountered and learn vital lessons in preparation and implementation of activities for the 2023 General Election. It is for this reason and we in this room the Commission and its officials, including some of the Supporting Resident Electoral Commissions that were responsible for the planning and conduct of the election. We also have with us leaders of Civil Society Organisations that not only directly witness the election but also gained useful insight from the report of the array of observers deployed to the field by the Organisations during the election. So also, are our Development Partners whose support will be required in addressing some of the identified challenges. We look forward to hearing their critical assessment of the 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 impact of insecurity on elections, rising costs occasioned by inflation, fluctuations in 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 behaviour 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 learnt in strengthening our administrative, operational and logistical arrangements for successful conduct and delivery of the 2023 General Election which is just 164 days away.

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