27th January, 2023
By Angela Atabo
Stakeholders in the electoral process have insisted that the 2023 general elections must hold despite some challenges.
The stakeholders said this at the 20th annual Daily Trust Dialogue in Abuja, with the theme “Interrogating the 2023 Presidential Agenda.”
Mr Festus Okoye, National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Chairman of the Information Committee, stated that the commission was working hard to prepare for the election in accordance with its mandate.
He said that 70 percent of the non-sensitive materials for the election had been deployed.
“As of today, we have taken delivery of all the technological devices we are going to deploy for this particular election and we have also started the training of the corps members and other election staff that will be deployed for the conduct of this election.
“We recognise the fact that security is a huge challenge and a good concern both to election workers and to the Nigerian people and also to the commission.
“We are consulting almost on a daily basis now with the various security agencies in relation to the security of our staff, security of the corps members that will be deployed for this election and also the security of the voters.
“So, we want to assure Nigerians that this commission is committed to conducting free, fair, transparent, verifiable and inclusive elections,” Okoye said.
He reiterated that the dates fixed for the election remained fixed and firm and INEC would not depart from them.
Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the Spokesperson for the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), said that it was high time Nigerians raised their voices to insist that there must be an election on Feb. 28 and March 11.
“Under any condition, Nigerians should not and will not accept any arrangement that is outside the Constitution.
” It doesn’t matter what the security situation is, there are people with responsibility President Buhari, governors, security agents.
“They must improve the security environment in such a manner that will relieve the public of some of the stresses that they are living under that is likely to provoke them, these are essentials,” he said.
Baba-Ahmed said that the measure was necessary because a credible election could not be conducted in a chaotic and angry environment, saying the government should improve it.
He said that there were many challenges ahead of the elections like fuel scarcity, insecurity and even the naira redesign of the Central Bank of Nigeria, saying that this should not deter Nigerians.
Prof. Rufai Ahmed-Alkali, the National Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) said that the naira redesign ought to have happened a lot of time ago and not a few months before the election.
Baba-Alkali said the currency change was causing agitation among Nigerians adding that the new notes were not enough in circulation and people were rejecting the old ones.
“Secondly, only recently some people are calling for the removal of the INEC chairman for no reason.
” How can you be asking for his removal? The Commission also has been doing its own best so this is not the time to say you want to remove him.
“All these things are causing tension but we are calling on INEC to stand firm, we also call on security agencies to stand firm, so they can ensure that we have free and credible elections,”