By EMMANUEL OLONIRUHA
ABUJA- Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, says Nigerians will determine who becomes their leaders in the 2023 general elections.
Yakubu stated this while receiving a team of Special Representatives of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, led by the Head of the UN Office in West Africa and the Sahel Region (UNOWAS), Ahmad Annadif, on Monday in Abuja.
Yakubu said that the commission would continue to work in line with provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 as amended to uphold the choice made by Nigerians, including the 2023 general elections.
“The ultimate choice is going to be made by Nigerians. Nigerians will determine who becomes what in the 2023 general elections.
“We will continue to uphold the choice made by Nigerians.
“So, I want to assure you that we will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that our elections continue to get better and better and the democratic environment is increasingly consolidated,” he said.
Yakubu said that with voting population of 84 million registered voters in Nigeria, INEC was aware of the strategic importance of Nigeria in the region and the need to have stability, peace through free, fair and credible elections.
“Nigeria is one of the 15 countries in the sub region, but the total number of registered voters in out of the 14 countries out together is 73 millions
“Meaning that Nigeria has 11 million more registered voters than other countries in the sub region put together.
“Anytime Nigeria conducts general elections, it is like a general elections in the whole of West Africa.
“So, we appreciate the enormous responsibility the commission is charged with,” Yakubu said.
The chairman commended UNOWAS for being supportive of INEC during conduct of elections in Nigeria.
He assured the team that the commission would remain committed to a fair electoral process.
He said INEC had been collaborating with agencies such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Needs Assessment Mission to Nigeria.
Yakubu said that INEC was always willing and ready to work with agencies and nations in the international community to deliver credible elections in the country.
“I recalled that the UNOWAS was supportive of the commission ahead of the last general elections held in 2019.
“We are also happy that on our invitation, our working with the United Nations Office in Nigeria and the United Nations Development Programme, we invited a United Nations Needs Assessment Mission ahead of the 2023 general election.
“I am glad that His Excellency, the Secretary-General of the United Nations accepted our invitation and not too long ago sent a Need Assessment Mission.
“I also want to thank UNOWAS because each time we conduct an election you send a team to monitor and observe our election. I am sure 2023 is not going to be different,” Yakubu added.
Head of the delegation, Annadif, assured INEC of the UN continuous support to ensure free and fair election and to further deepen Nigeria’s democracy.
Annadif said that Nigeria by virtue of its population could not be ignored in the West African region, adding that peace and stability in the region largely depended on stability of Nigeria.
“We are here because Nigeria will hold election next year. There are indications that peace and stability in the region largely depends on peace in Nigeria.
“United Nations will always be supportive to Nigeria so that this election will take place peacefully.
“We congratulate you and we will support you again for the work being done and the work you will do in preparing for this election,” he said.
Annadif congratulated the country for the successful conduct of party primaries across political parties and expressed joy that candidates of parties emerged peacefully.(NAN)