INEC fully ready for 2023 elections – Chairman, Yakubu says

Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has talked about the anticipated 2023 elections.

Yakubu, yesterday said that with the success of the mock accreditation, the commission was fully ready for the conduct of the 2023 general elections.

The Mock accreditation exercise is meant to test the effectiveness of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System being deployed for the election nationwide as a replacement for the card reader.

The exercise is taking place in about 436 polling units in the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory with two polling units drawn from six local government areas and two Area councils of the FCT. Yakubu monitored the exercise in two polling units in Abuja Municipal Area Council and Bwari Area council, expressing satisfaction with the conduct of the exercise. He said reports from across the country indicate a huge success of the exercise, with each voter being accredited under 30 seconds.

He said “the BIVAS never fails anyone. As you have seen here, the machine actually never fails. I would not like to comment on a matter in court because it is subjudice. But in every situation, the commission learns and carries the experience towards improving the next process. We have learnt some lessons from what happened and one of the lessons is to be able to transmit the accreditation data. So, we have a sample result sheet that will transmit the accreditation data. But there is no formal result sheet here because people have not voted.

“On the INEC portal, we have created new url. We are going to transmit both the accreditation figures and election result on the day of election. The two must tally. We are giving Nigerians the assurance that on Election Day, both accreditation figure and actual votes cast will be transmitted simultaneously and accurately”.

The commission also conducted the mock accreditation exercise in twelve (12) polling units across six local government areas in Lagos Sate. In Lagos, the selected local government areas include: Ikorodu, Somolu, Eti-Osa, Surulere, Agege and Ikeja. They were picked from the three senatorial districts in the state. INEC officials led by the Lagos Resident Electoral Commissioner, Olusegun Agbaje, visited six polling units in Surulere, Shomolu and Ikeja respectively to observe the process.

Agbaje re-echoed that the mock accreditation process was to test the functionality of the BVAS ahead of the 2023 general election in the state. In some of the polling units monitored by The Nation, the exercise started at 8:30 a.m and ended by 2:30 p.m. At the polling units, security operatives including the Police, NSCDC, DSS were on ground to monitor the process. Also, various party agents, especially Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC), and Labour Party (LP) agents were on ground to observe the process.

Our correspondent also monitored the exercise at Polling Unit 016, Isele 1, Ikorodu LGA within the premises of United High School on Etunrenren road. Participants praised the BVAS machine and applauded the preparedness of the commission ahead of the general election. Frontline woman politician, Bolanle Sobowale said the people of Ikorodu are eager to perform their civic responsibilities. Other respondents in their different reactions commended the use of BVAS, and urged INEC to conduct free, fair and credible polls.

Of the 543 registered voters at Anifowoshe/Ikeja, ‘in front of No 50 Abeokuta’ in the Ikeja local government area, 27 voters were accredited at about 12:11 pm when The Nation visited. The INEC official said that all the accreditation were successful. Also, at Somolu LGA, RA – Mafowoku, Polling Unit 040, Ward 5 located at Omo Alade Alafia Street, Bariga, an INEC official said that “no failed accreditation” was recorded, and that the process was smooth due to the co-operation of the voters.

Stakeholders who participated in the exercise in parts of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State have charged INEC to pay prompt attention to the critical issue of automatic voter migration, other grey areas identified by the mock election before the election proper. An Observer from civil society group, Yiaga Africa, Obinna Ebogidi, also another activist, Wonodi Ewuniso and Eluonu Amadi, who participated in the process in ward 21, identified production of comprehensive voter register, publication of migration lists, early deployment of personnel and material to polling units, deployment of proper  B-VAS machines to the right polling units, as well as provision of backup machines to avoid disenfranchisement of voters, among others as areas INEC should pay attention to.

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