Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu on Thursday met with security chiefs, lamenting that in view of current challenges, securing the country ahead of next year’s general election is a tough task.
Speaking at the first quarterly meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security ICCES, Yakubu said 2022 is going to be a busier year as there are nine pending bye-elections in seven States of the Federation.
He said the date for the Shinkafi State Constituency bye-election in Zamfara State will be decided after consultation with the security agencies regarding the security situation in the area, while the Commission awaits the declaration of vacancy by the Kaduna State House of Assembly in respect of Giwa West State Constituency to be followed by a review of the security situation in the area as well.
Yakubu said; “In addition to these off-cycle and bye-elections, we must also continue to prepare for the 2023 General Election holding in 394 days.
“Securing the nation under current circumstances is challenging enough. It is more so in an election year. Beginning from this meeting, we shall focus mainly on the best way to secure the electoral process in the most professional manner”.
On the distance between Continuous Voter Registration CVR points, the INEC boss appealed to Nigerians to exercise patience, saying INEC is working on opening more registration centres.
“The CVR exercise has now entered its Third Quarter. I want to assure Nigerians that we are aware of the constraints experienced by many citizens in reaching the 811 designated centres nationwide to register. Some of them are separated by considerable distance from the places where citizens reside.
“We are looking forward to activating the additional 1,862 centres nationwide to make it easier for citizens to exercise their right to register as voters. At the same time, we are mindful of the imperative of securing the process, especially the lives of registrants and our personnel. We will not put the lives of Nigerians and our registration officials at risk. For this reason, this meeting will review the security situation with a view to achieving our ultimate goal of activating 2,673 registration centres nationwide”, he stated.
Co-chair of ICCES, the National Security Adviser NSA, Mohammed Monguno who was represented by Sanusi Galadima commended the chairman of the commission and his team for the ongoing technological innovation in the electoral process, saying it will undoubtedly deepen Nigeria’s democratic culture.
He said; “Although the Anambra Governorship election was adjudged hitch-free it was not without some logistics and operational challenges.
“Accordingly, this meeting is timely as it will enable members to brainstorm on how to address the identified challenges in a proactive manner.
“This is very important given the fact that the 2023 General Election is around the corner, as well as the FCT local government elections scheduled for 12th February 2022 and two off-cycle elections in Ekiti and Osun States as well as other bye elections in the country.
“All available security architecture of the government will be mobilised to achieve this objective”.