By Omeiza Ajayi & Fortune Eromosele, ABUJA
Ahead of the November 6 Governorship Election in Anambra state, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has expressed dismay at recent attacks on its office in the state, but said the Commission is more concerned about the safety of citizens and its officials rather than electoral materials.
He stated this during the 2021 annual Abubakar Momoh Memorial Lecture, with the theme “Security and Elections: Implications for Anambra State Governorship and 2023 General Elections.”
He described the numerous attacks on the Commission’s offices and properties as alarming, adding that between 2019 and now, there have been attacks on 42 INEC facilities in the country.
“More immediately, we are equally concerned about the Anambra Governorship Election that is scheduled for 6 November, 2021, especially following the attack on the head office.
“The Commission, in collaboration with all stakeholders is determined to tackle this challenge. Definitely, we cannot face it alone, this is why voter education and information, constant dialogue, community outreaches, deliberations and assessment fora such as this public lecture will continue. The Nigerian public must own the desire for democracy and peaceful conduct of elections,” he said.
He however offered condolences to the family of the erstwhile Director-General of The Electoral Institute, Professor Abubakar Momoh, describing him as a renowned civil rights activists and an advocate for transparency, accountability and good governance.
Speaking in the same vein, Director-General, The Electoral Institute, TEI, Dr. Sa’ad Idris, said, considering the necessity of conducting elections and presenting a secured environment during elections, the topic is very apt to the build-up to the 2021 Anambra Governorship and 2023 General Elections.
“Security issues in Nigeria today are highly multi-faceted as they are multitasking. Before now, what we only grappled with was preponderance of political violence and thuggery in elections, the trend that led to a situation whereby the citizens of Nigeria were viewing elections and democratic processes with apprehension and anxiety.
“The unfortunate situation we are all facing today is that the security situation in the country has degenerated beyond the above-mentioned reckless manipulations, the politics of brinkmanship and subversion.
“The constant fears expressed today by the electoral umpire (INEC), the electorate and the Nigerian citizens in general are the possibility of insecurity at elections, banditry, kidnapping and the threat of highly dangerous criminal elements marauding the country as a whole.
“It is my belief that this memorial lecture will interrogate the relationship between Security and Elections as far as the Anambra State Governorship and 2023 General Elections are concerned, and suggest ways of conducting free, fair, credible and inclusive elections amidst the kind of security scenario Nigeria is experiencing now,” he stated.
In his remarks, National Commissioner and Chairman Board of Electoral Institute, BEI, emphasized that security is an issue that goes along with elections, maintaining that INEC is charged with the responsibility of conducting free and fair elections.
To this end, he said there is reason to be concerned about the Anambra state governorship election and the 2023 general elections, as it would avoid constitutional crisis, noting that elections must be conducted in line with constitutional timelines.
Delivering a keynote lecture, Prof. Adele Jinadu highlighted that the power to have a successful Anambra gubernatorial elections and 2023 general elections, lies in the hands of all Nigerians.
“In the words of the Catechist, God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform! But it would be unscientific for us to think we can muzzle through to Anambra, 2023, and indeed beyond as we did in earlier elections, waiting for God’s Grace to help us muzzle through.
“God, they say, helps those who help themselves -which is to say we have the power of agency to direct our lives”, he said.