What Did INEC Boss Say to Nigerians at Chatham House?

January 18, 2023

It’s 38 days to the start of Nigeria’s 2023 elections. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been involved in a lot of recent troubles. This includes the attack on seven INEC offices in the last four months, the near removal of Mahmood Yakubu as INEC chairman, amongst others.

This is why Yakubu decided to use his Chatham House outing on January 17, 2023, to reassure citizens of the commission’s credibility. He also gave some updates regarding the 2023 elections and future laws. Here are some of them:

The 2023 elections are for the youth

Yakubu has confirmed that the winner of the 2023 elections would be determined by the youth. This is simply because they have something going for them this year — their high numbers.

According to Yakubu, “the 2023 election is the election of young people because they have the numbers. Even the majority of PVCs collected are by young people. Out of the 93.4 million, 70.4 million registered voters are between the ages of 18 and 49.”

This is a solid increase from the last four years. The total number of registered voters in 2019 was 84 million, with 51.1% of these voters as youths aged 18-35.

The 2023 elections will hold despite reports of insecurity

It is no longer news that Nigeria’s insecurity numbers keep rising at a worrisome level. 

This is especially felt in regions such as the North-East with Boko Haram, North-West/North-Central with the onset of banditry, and in South eastern Nigeria with violence from the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)

However, Yakubu has assured Nigerians that the elections will hold no matter what. He also said that the commission would take the insecurity bull by the horns through the use of two tools:

  • Election Violence Mitigation and Advocacy Tool (EVMAT), is a research and diagnostic tool for predicting and reducing the risk of election violence before elections. 
  • The Election Risk Management Tool (ERM) tracks and reports general risks to elections.

People who have been displaced by these conflicts are not left out. The INEC boss has plans to make registered Internally Displaced Person camps (IDP) camps into polling units. 

INEC supports diaspora voting, but lawmakers are against it

With several questions from the audience about diaspora voting, Yakubu reiterated that the commission is in full support of Nigerians in foreign countries being able to vote from wherever they are.

However, the bill to include diaspora voting as part of Nigerian law was refused by lawmakers in the National House of Assembly (NASS) in March 2022. Therefore, Nigerians should continue to beg the NASS lawmakers to make a diaspora voting law.

INEC may introduce body odour as a means of voter accreditation in future

Yes, you read it right, body odour. The INEC boss is open to having machines that can detect individual body scents/aromas to verify genuine voters in polling units in future elections. It’s very similar to how dogs can identify house residents by smelling their scent.

The use of cell phones and cameras would be banned to avoid vote buying

Dirty party agents will have a tough time with vote-buying this year, as Yakubu has mentioned that voters will be prohibited from using cell phones and cameras in voting cubicles.

This is because of the recent “mark, snap, and show” tactic. Here, a voter will go into the voter cubicles, mark the ballot and snap it with their phones for later payment by the party agent.

Every voter in the queue before 2:30 pm will vote

Previous experiences in past elections show that there are instances where voting closed for the day in the evenings. This is to the dismay of voters who had not yet cast their votes.

Yakubu assured Nigerians that as long as a voter shows up at the polling unit between 8:30 am and  2:30 pm and is in the queue, they’d be allowed to cast their vote. Even if it takes all night to do it.

He also mentioned that this usually happened due to the separation of voter accreditation and the casting of votes. 

To counter this, there will be simultaneous voter accreditation and ballot casting. This is so that you, the voter, can attend to any other business at hand.

We write the news and track the 2023 elections for citizens, by citizens in our weekly newsletter, Game of Votes. Make the subscription of a lifetime here.

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