The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has identified voter education and sensitisation as one of the core areas it would require the support of the United Nations to successfully conduct a free, fair, credible, and inclusive 2023 general election.
The Daily bulletin issued by the commission quoted INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, as listing the areas of required support when he received in audience the United Nations Needs Assessment Mission, led by Serge Gakwandi Kubwimana, at the Commission’s headquarters, Abuja, on Wednesday.
Yakubu said that given the size of Nigeria, there was the need to keep engaging citizens and stakeholders using different media platforms.
The INEC Chairman reiterated that the conduct of free, fair, credible and inclusive election remains the core concern of the commission.
He listed other areas of priorities for the Commission to include consolidating the gains of electoral reforms through increased capacity building for the Commission and other stakeholders.
Also identified by Yakubu were enhancing the security of elections, increasing inclusivity and participation, as well as expanding the use of relevant technology in the electoral process.
He said that there were issues in the conduct and management of the electoral process that were actually sovereign responsibilities to be borne by the Nigerian government.
Yakubu, however, said that “there are some areas of electoral activity where support will be appreciated and we have prioritized 5 areas.
“The first one is Training and Capacity Building support for staff of the Commission. The second is Voter Education and Sensitization. Given the size of the country we need to keep engaging using different media”.
Number three area of support as highlighted by the INEC Chairman “is election security and conflict mitigation.
The fourth area of support enumerated was capacity building for political parties, which nominated candidates for elections.
“So we need to build the capacity of the parties to nominate good candidates, so that when elected they can represent the country well,” he added.
The INEC Chairman further identified inclusivity measures as the fifth area of support.
Speaking on the huge task ahead of the Commission in conducting the 2023 general election, Yakubu explained that the general election will be conducted in 1,491 Constituencies across the country.
“We have 18 political parties. Assuming that half of them field candidates in all the constituencies, we are talking about close to 15,000 nominations which is really a huge task.”
Commenting on the size of the voting population in Nigeria, Yakubu said it was currently 11 million larger than the other 14 countries in the West African sub-region put together.
“In 2019, we had 84 million registered voters, we are still registering voters for the 2023 general election, and in our estimation the voter population will be at least 90 million for 2023. At 90 million, it will make our voter register in Nigeria the largest in West Africa.
“Minus Nigeria, the other 14 countries in West Africa all together have about 73 million registered voters.
“At present, we have 84 million registered voters, so we have 11 million more registered voters than the rest of West Africa combined.
“So each time we conduct an election in Nigeria, it is like we are conducting an election in the whole of West Africa. So, election in Nigeria is no joke at all”.
He further hinted that the 2023 general election will involve about 1 million election officials, including regular and temporary or ad-hoc staff across 176,846 polling units, across 8,809 Wards, and 774 Local Government Areas across the country.
Yakubu expressed delight that the election would be governed by the new Electoral Act 2022.
Earlier in his remarks, the leader of the delegation from the United Nations, Kubwimana, said they were in Nigeria in response to a letter written in January to the United Nations Secretary General, seeking the support of the organisation ahead of the 2023 general election.
He explained that the meeting with the Chairman and members of the Commission was the highpoint of a series of scheduled meetings with other key players in the democratic process such as the Leadership of the National Assembly, Leaders of Political Parties and the Government of Nigeria.
This, according to him, is to explore ways of the U.N. intervention through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other entities on ground can support the democratic process in Nigeria.
Kubwimana also said that the visit to Nigeria would equally help the UN keep abreast with the state of preparedness for the 2023 general election.
He added that they were available to listen to other issues that the Commission may wish to bring to their notice.
“We also use this to serve as your ambassadors when we go back. If need be to encourage others to support the very important work that you do,” he added.