By Henry Umoru
SEVENTEEN Days to the Presidential and National election, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has raised the alarm that violence and threat of violence are major challenges to credible elections this month.
Speaking in Abuja at the one-day Special Hearing on the Extent of Implementation of the Electoral Act, 2022 ahead of the conduct of the 2023 General election organised by the National Assembly Joint Committee on Electoral Matters, Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu however assured that 2023 General election would proceed as planned as there were no plans to postpone the election.
The INEC Chairman who was represented by a National Commissioner, Mrs May Agbamuche- Mbu disclosed that towards the 2023 General Election, the Commission has been joined in over 1, 000 pre- election cases as at Friday 6th January 2023 involving intra- party elections and nomination of candidates by political parties.
Agbamuche- Mbu said, “With the General Election af hand, it is important to remind you all of the Commussions commitment to free, fair and credible elections. Our preparation is bowever fraught with challenges, There is no doubt that violence and threat of violence are major challenges to credible election in 2023, Violence makes deployment for elections difficult particularly where some of the attacks are targeted at the electoral process and partk pants.
“However the Commission has been working with security agencies and other stakeholders to establish mechanisms to understand, track and mitigate security challenges. We are working collaboratively in the context of Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES). In all, we feel assured by the actions we have taken and our collaboration with the security agencies. The 2023 General Election will proceed as planned. There is no plan to postpone the election.
“Towards the 2023 General Election, the Commission has been joined in over 1,000 Court cases as at Friday 6th January 2023 involving intra-party elections and nomination of candidates by political parties.
“Having concluded 12 out of 14 of the activities in timetable and schedule of activities for the General Election, the Commission is fully committed to the successful conduct of free, fair and credible elections.”
Also the National Assembly has said that the most outstanding threat to the 2023 election is the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, just as it stressed that there is a cabal that does not want the election to hold, warning that those who called themselves the cabal, under Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’ Adua, Goodluck Jonathan became irrelevant after that.
Speaking yesterday at the Public hearing, Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, who is also a member of the Joint National Assembly Committee on Electoral Matter, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, APC, Ekiti Central said, “The CBN told us at the beginning of the policy that the targets were the so-called moneybags who stashed away billions in their closets. We thought those at the people they want to get at.
“We have now seeing that it is the ordinary man on the streets. They are sleeping in the banking hall because they cannot have access to the little money they have. We must understand the political economy of an electoral process.
“People are thinking of the money politicians would spend on vote buying, they don’t know that political parties would also mobilise people to all the polling units as agents, just like the INEC would mobilise personnel also.
“Today, the CBN is assuring Nigerians that it would provide money for INEC if they need more money. Are we saying that INEC must rely on the intervention of the CBN for it to perform?
“If the police run into logistics problems, they would also run to CBN for selective intervention.
“We are fighting Boko Haram of the military authorities could not access funds from their banks, they will also need to approach the CBN for selective intervention.
“These are issues and as a stakeholder, the CBN is the most outstanding threat to these elections holding as scheduled.
“The INEC should do it’s best. When the political class appear to have held the nation to ransom as it appears now, it is the judiciary that will have to stand up and save the nation from the jugular of the political class.
“There is definitely, a cabal that does not want this election to hold but let us remind them those who call themselves the cabal, under president Olusegun Obasanjo they became irrelevant after that. Ditto those who constituted themselves as cabal under late president Umaru Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan.
“The current situation shall also past.The nation is at a crossroad and all stakeholders must stand up in defence of our democracy.”
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