The reassurance by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), last week, that it was fully ready and well-prepared for the 2023 General Elections is a welcome development. The reassurance came after the initial fears raised on the possibility of a shift, cancellation or postponement of the polls based on the present situation in some parts of the country, mainly the prevailing insecurity, especially in the South East.
The Federal Government had responded to the ”distress call” by INEC with a prompt affirmation that it would ensure that the elections are conducted under a free and safe atmosphere. Maintaining that there was no cause for alarm, the Federal Government assured that the elections would go on as scheduled, starting with the Presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled to hold on February 25, 2023.
About a month ago, President Muhammadu Buhari had also affirmed that INEC had no reason not to be ready for the General Elections as he had met all the requests of the nation’s electoral umpire and was ready to leave a legacy of free and credible elections in the country.
Without any iota of doubt, INEC has been resolute and determined in going ahead with the elections despite obvious challenges just as President Buhari appears ready to walk his talk . His recent political engagements and full participation in the campaigns of his party – the All Progressives Congress (APC) – are clear indications that he is, indeed, preparing to hand over to the next leader.
INEC, on its part, has been battling with so many forces and frustrations, especially the various attacks on its offices and destruction of electoral materials in some parts of the country. Other challenges also include the threat by some elements not to allow elections to be held in their areas. All these, coming just over a month to the General Elections, must have warranted the alarm raised on the possibility of the elections being shifted, cancelled or postponed.
However, it appears that the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, is equally undaunted by the mounting challenges as he remains focused on delivering free, fair and credible elections to Nigerians. The conduct of the 2023 General Elections is a task that must be achieved, he seems to be telling Nigerians.
Prof. Yakubu’s ability to deliver on his mandate is not in doubt as his excellent performance of his duties had earned him a second term in the exalted office thus beating his predecessors to the enviable record. We therefore believe that INEC needs all our support at this point in time.
The electoral umpire appears to be running against time and is not leaving any stone unturned. Penultimate week, INEC stepped up its preparations for the polls by constituting committees for the National Situation Room and Collation Centre for the 2023 General Elections.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu, was appointed to head the Collaboration Secretariat Committee as National chairman with the National Commissioner, Mrs May Agbamuche-Mbu, as chairperson of the Situation Room Committee.
Only last week, the Commission announced the extension of the ongoing distribution and collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) at the wards level by a week to enable more Nigerians participate fully in the elections even as it released the total number of eligible and registered voters across the six geo-political zones of the country just to demonstrate its readiness for the polls.
We believe that nothing could be more assuring than all these and we urge Nigerians to fully support the Commission as it prepares for the elections. We are also happy that the political campaigns have been going on peacefully across the country without attacks on political opponents as we used to experience. Nigerians, in general, must therefore be commended for the maturity being displayed in the countdown to the General Elections..
While not supporting the militarisation of the elections, we encourage the security personnel to be at alert to deal decisively with trouble makers. Recent security breaches in Anambra, Imo and Kogi States are simple pointers to what we might experience during the elections. Nigerians must be reminded that the political aspirations of any individual or group of individuals is not worth the blood of Nigerians.
Our politicians and political leaders must be responsible for their actions and inactions before, during and after the elections. Irresponsible political statements and subtle threats on the electorate as well as intimidation and harassment of opponents in order to woo them to their sides should be discouraged.
Nigerians must understand that there will always be life after the elections and, as such, must strive to ensure that the forthcoming general elections are not only peaceful but credible as well. All hands must therefore be on deck to ensure that the 2023 elections are conducted under a very peaceful atmosphere in order to ensure a smooth transition of power to the next set of leaders.