REMARKS BY THE CHAIRMAN, INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC), PROF. MAHMOOD YAKUBU, AT A MEETING WITH THE RESIDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSIONERS (RECs) HELD AT THE INEC CONFERENCE ROOM, ABUJA, ON SATURDAY 4TH MARCH 2023
Our Resident Electoral 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. This is our 3rd meeting in less than two months. Like the last two meetings, the purpose is to discuss the conduct of the 2023 General Election. Arising from the Presidential and National Assembly elections held a week ago, and with the Governorship and State Assembly elections holding next week, it is imperative to review performance and assess preparations.
2. No doubt, last week’s national elections raised a number of issues that require immediate, medium, and long-term solutions. The planning for the election was painstakingly done. However, its implementation came with challenges, some of them unforeseen. The issues of logistics, election technology, behaviour of some election personnel at different levels, attitude of some party agents and supporters added to the extremely challenging environment in which elections are usually held in Nigeria.
3. We appreciate the sacrifice and doggedness of Nigerians and the dignity and maturity displayed by political leaders even in the context of divergent views about the election. A lot of lessons have been learnt. Of immediate concern to the Commission is how the identified challenges can be addressed as we approach the concluding phase of the General Election involving the largest number of constituencies i.e. 28 State Governorship elections and 993 State Houses of Assembly seats.
4. In last Saturday’s elections, winners have also been declared for 423 national legislative seats while supplementary elections will be held in 46 constituencies. In the Senate, 98 out of 109 seats have been declared. So far, seven political parties have won senatorial seats while in the House of Representatives, 325 out of 360 seats have been won by eight political parties.
In terms of party representation, this is the most diverse national assembly since 1999 as can be seen from the tabular summary below:- Senate House of Reps
Party Seats Party Seats
APC 57 ADC 2
APGA 1 APC 162
LP 6 APGA 4
NNPP 2 LP 34
PDP 29 NNPP 18
SDP 2 PDP 102
YPP 1 SDP 2
5. Certificates of Return will be presented to Senators-elect on Tuesday 7th March 2023 at 11.00am at the National Collation Centre (the International Conference Centre), Abuja, while Members of the House of Representatives-elect will receive theirs the following day, Wednesday 8th March 2023, at 11.00am at the same venue. However, for effective crowd management, each Senator/Member-elect should be accompanied by a maximum of two guests. The comprehensive list of all members-elect will be uploaded to the Commission’s website shortly.
6. As we approach the Governorship and State Assembly elections, we must work harder to overcome the challenges experienced in the last election. Nothing else will be acceptable to Nigerians. All staff found to be negligent, whether they are regular or ad hoc officials, including Collation and Returning Officers, must not be involved in forthcoming elections. RECs must also immediately initiate disciplinary action where prima facie evidence of wrongdoing has been established.
7. Election Day logistics must be finalised days before the election and handled by the Electoral Officers (EOs) at Local Government level. This has been our standard practice. Centralising the process as was done in some States resulted in delayed deployment of personnel and materials and late commencement of polls. RECs will be held responsible for any tardy arrangement or the failure to deploy electric power generators to collation centres or polling units where such facilities are needed. The Commission has enough facilities in all the States of the Federation. Failure to deploy them is simply inexcusable.
8. Refresher training must be conducted for ad hoc staff that participated in the last election. Where they are replaced for good reason, they must be properly trained so that processes are not delayed or compromised at any stage.
9. Arising from last week’s election, the Commission has received reports from our State offices well as complaints and petitions from political parties and candidates. Where infractions of any kind are proven, there will be redress. I must add that any action taken by the Commission is without prejudice to the rights of parties and candidates to seek further remedy as provided by law.
10. On Election Day technology, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) will once again be deployed for voter accreditation and result management. The deployment of BVAS has gone a long way to sanitise voter accreditation as can be seen from the result of recent elections. Since last week, the Commission has intensified the review of the technology to ensure that glitches experienced, particularly with the upload of results are rectified. We are confident that going forward the system will run optimally.
11. Once again, the Commission would like to appreciate the patience and understanding of Nigerians. We do not take this for granted. We equally appreciate the patriotism of political, traditional, religious and community leaders that appealed for calm. Similarly, the Commission appreciates the role of heads of election observation missions, some of whom are still in the country. We appeal to such missions to consider extending their observations to the Governorship and State Assembly elections not only because they form an integral part of the General Election for which they are accredited but also because they are as important as the national elections.
12. In the same vein, the Commission appreciates all domestic observers for their preliminary reports which will help us enormously as we conclude the 2023 General Election. We look forward to the full reports. We similarly appreciate the media for the extensive coverage of the election and the analyses by informed Nigerians and friends of Nigeria on the processes. We wish to assure you that we will continue to engage with you and all segments of the Nigerian society in a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder review of the election in earnest.
13. I welcome all our RECs to this meeting as we go into the working session. Thank you and God bless.