*…urges NASS to harmonize, expedite action on electoral bill
By Festus Ahon, ASABA
THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has said it was already running against time as regards preparation for the 2023 general elections.
INEC National Commissioner, Information and Voter Education, IVEC, Mr. Festus Okoye, stated this in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
He urged both chambers of the National Assembly to harmonise and expedite action in the passage of the amended Electoral Bill, adding that the framework was needed to back up its actions.
Okoye spoke on the sidelines of the opening of a two-day capacity building workshop for Heads of Voter Education and Publicity, VEP, and Public Affairs Officers of INEC from the 17 Southern states.
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It was organised with support from the European Centre for Electoral Support (ACES) and the European Union.
He said the commission was resolute in its decision to deepen democracy through a technologically-driven electoral process in 2023 and beyond.
The Electoral Bill
He also stressed the urgent need for the passage and signing of the bill into law.
Okoye who declared the workshop open, said: “Under the new bill, the commission shall give a notice of elections 360 days to the commencement of poll.
“And you know INEC has already fixed February 18, 2023 as date of election, so when you count backwards, you will see that there is a limited time within which we have to give the notice of election based on the new bill.
“The bill also makes it mandatory that election funds shall be released to the commission at least 12 months before any election.
“So we are desirous of the bill for whatever funds is due the commission for the purpose of procurement.
“Also under the new bill, political parties are obligated to submit list and personal particulars of their nominated candidates at least 180 days to the election.
“The implication is that parties must conclude their primaries ahead of time, at least six months to election for them to remain within the framework.
“So the National Assembly is aware of this, and we are confident as a commission, that whatever issues are involved relating to why the bill has not be passed would be resolved any moment from now.
“There are so many provisions in the bill that would impact fundamentally on the electoral process.”
Addressing participants while declaring the workshop open, Okoye told them assist their Resident Electoral Commissioners to engage the media.
“You must not be an orator. You must not be charismatic.
“Your business is communication and you must communicate in knowledge and humility,” he said.
On his part, the Project Coordinator, ECES, Hamza Fassi-Fihri said the agency was committed to an efficient and seamless communication system in the nation’s electoral process.
Also, Delta State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Monday Udo-Tom thanked the organisers of the workshop, saying that it would enrich the electoral process.
He expressed hope that the outcome of the workshop would enhance INEC’s communication and perception management strategy.