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2023: Denial of access to public facilities to parties, candidates shocking – INEC


…Condemns clashes Among Political Parties

By Chibuike Nwabuko

Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has expressed shock over the denial of access to public facilities to parties and candidates in some states.

The INEC Boss expressed the shock on Tuesday in his opening remarks during a “Special Training Of Master Trainers on Technologies for 2023 General Elections” held in Abuja.

He equally stated that the reports of clashes amongst political parties and their supporters in some states of the country during the ongoing electioneering campaign is worrisome.

Yakubu therefore cautioned parties and their supporters to focus on issues and steer clear of attacks on each other. This he said, is not a just a violation of electoral Act 2022 but also a negation of the voluntary commitment by all political parties and candidates to the letters and spirit of the peace accord signed about two weeks ago under the auspices of the National Peace Committee.

He warned that parties, candidates and their supporters should not by omission or commission further complicate the prevailing security situation in the country. Declaring that a peaceful electioneering campaign is critical to the conduct of free and credible elections.

INEC Chairman, Mahmuud Yakubu with other members of the Commission at a training in Abuja

The INEC Chairman promised that the Commission will continue to monitor the situation closely and will convene a meeting of leaders of political parties next week, to discuss among other issues, the imperative of peaceful campaigns and equal access to public facilities. Similarly, he said same next week, the Commission will also meet with the security agencies under the auspices of Inter-Agencies Committtee on Election security.

Yakubu who highlighted the important role the deployment of technology has played in election said “innovations have increased transparency and public confidence in the electoral process. They are also part of the legal requirements for conducting elections in Nigeria. The combination of the BVAS and the IReV portal have come to stay as a means of voter accreditation and transmission of election results.

On the importance of the training, the head of the electoral umpire said from the experience of recent off-cycle elections, the Commission is convinced that a critical success factor in the deployment of technology in elections is training. Therefore, we need to build the capacity of the staff involved not only to competently handle the devices during the accreditation process but also respond effectively to any glitches that may occur during elections. Our plan for the 2023 General Election is to commence the training of election officials early and for a longer period of time for optimal understanding of the processes and procedures in order to serve Nigerians better. A key component of this effort is election technology, he added.

He reminded that today, the Commission begins the process with the training of master trainers to serve as Registration Area Technical Support (RATECH). A total of 82 officials drawn from their offices nationwide will form the nucleus of the training. Over the next three days, they will receive intensive hands-on training on the new technology. Thereafter, they will train more officials at zonal level to cover all the 8,809 Registration Areas (or Wards). In turn, these officials will be involved in the training ad hoc staff for the 176,846 Polling Units nationwide, he noted.

He therefore warned the master trainers against laxity as there will be consequences for unethical behaviour or any act of misconduct.

In his words: Your role as master trainers is critical to the success of training at subsequent levels and ultimately the successful deployment of the devices during elections. For this reason, the Commission will not accept laxity on your part. Much as we have confidence in your ability to understand and discharge your responsibilities to the officials you will subsequently train, there will be consequences for unethical behaviour or any act of misconduct. I wish you a successful training.

Others who were present at the teaining are the National Commissioners of INEC,
The Country Director of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES),
Members of the Technical Team, The Director General of the Electoral Institute, Directors of the Commission, among others.

Sundiata Post recall that there were reports that the Rivers state government and Ebonyi state government are asking parties to get clearance from government before they can use the public facilities for political campaign and rallies.

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