President Muhammadu Buhari has instructed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the timetable for the conduct of the 2023 general election is strictly adhered to as no adjustment in the dates will be entertained.
In the timetable released by INEC, last year, the Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on Saturday, February 25, 2023, followed by the Governorship and State Assembly elections on Saturday, March 11, 2023.
However, there were reports, last week, that the electoral body may shift the polls by a minimum of two weeks due to logistics issues.
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Key among these challenges is the incessant burning of INEC offices across the country and the insecurity challenges in the South-East and North-East. Also, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had last week expressed worry over the lingering fuel crisis in the country, noting that the scarcity might affect the movement of election materials and election personnel.
There are also fears that the ongoing naira scarcity might negatively affect the elections even though it is believed that it will be addressed before the polls.
A senior official of the commission informed Daily Independent that while the electoral body is determined to stick to the scheduled date, recent developments in the country may force it to announce an extension.
“The commission is doing all it can to stick to the announced dates but given the numerous challenges being witnessed across the country, such as burning of our offices, insecurity challenges and attack on INEC officials, lingering fuel scarcity coupled with problems arising from the naira redesign, I won’t be surprised if the election is postponed by two weeks minimum.”
However, the Commissioner for Information and Voter Education of INEC, Festus Okoye, denied any plans of extension, saying the dates fixed for the conduct of the elections remain firm.
“The dates fixed by the commission for the conduct of the 2023 general election are fixed and firm”, he said.
Also affirming Okoye’s position, Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, said there are no plans to shift the elections.
“Not at all. The commission is not even contemplating shifting the 2023 general election”.
Speaking with Daily Independent on Sunday, a senior presidential aide who asked not to be named said President Muhammadu Buhari has given clear instructions to INEC to ensure that the scheduled dates are strictly adhered to.
“I don’t think the fears of whether the election dates will be shifted is justified. The president has given clear instructions to INEC to ensure that the dates announced for the election are strictly adhered to. Also, the commission has said it for the umpteenth time that the dates remain sacrosanct. So right now, we are confident that the presidential election will hold as scheduled on February 25.
“The only issue INEC raised which is very legitimate is the issue of fuel scarcity which they said may affect logistics and I think that has been settled as INEC itself had said it will not rely on the fuel supplied by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited for the movement of its personnel and materials ahead of the general elections”.