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February 24, 2024

2023 poll best planned, most innovative — INEC

INEC

INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu

•Releases 526-page report, Insists poll reflected Nigerians’ wishes
•Says, no party dominated the election
•Poll unique, spread of results better than past elections

By Omeiza Ajayi

One year after conducting a general election which generated so much heat and acrimony in the country, the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) yesterday released its official report on the election, declaring that the spread of the results of 2023 poll across party lines was better than in all past elections that have been conducted in the country and reflected the wishes of Nigerians.

In a 526-page document titled, “The Report of 2023 General Election”, the Commission said the 2023 poll was free and fair and the analysis of the poll showed that no party dominated it.

The Commission also listed some of the challenges it encountered during the elections which included
the currency swap by the Buhari administration, attacks on INEC facilities and a few glitches.

The commission also claimed that the poll was unique in terms of keeping to the timetable, new 80 clauses in the Electoral Act and introduction of new technologies which made voting easier.

The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Mr. Sam Olumekun, in a statement said the Commission convened for its weekly meeting on Thursday, 22nd February 2024, where the 2023 General Election Report was reviewed and approved for publication.

According to Olumekun; “in keeping with our tradition over the last four electoral cycles, and our commitment to transparency, we are pleased to announce the release of the official INEC report on the 2023 General Election. This comprehensive 526-page document, structured into 13 chapters and enhanced with 60 tables, 14 boxes and 10 graphs, offers an in-depth analysis of the election’s key processes, achievements, and challenges, alongside valuable lessons learned. The Report showcases the election’s unparalleled diversity in party representation, demonstrating significant democratic progress. “This election saw four political parties winning gubernatorial races, seven parties winning senatorial seats, eight in federal constituencies and nine in State legislatures, illustrating a broad shift in political representation across Nigeria.”

The INEC report said in part: “The 2023 General Election is perhaps the best planned and most innovative election in Nigeria. “The election witnessed the highest number of eligible voters and voting locations across the country with the participation of over one million election duty officials and deployment of enormous logistic requirements including over 100,000 vehicles and about 4,000 boats protected by gunboats. “Given the meticulous preparations for the election, the transparency of the entire electoral process, from the casting of the vote, the publication of the number of collected Permanent Voters Card for the election down to the polling unit level for the first time, the presence of security personnel, party agents, election observers and the media along the entire voting process and result collation chain, as well as the layers of stringent checks and control put in place by the Commission before making a declaration and return for an election, the outcome of the election, based on immutable provisions in the electoral legal framework is a true reflection of the wishes of the electorate.”

According to the report; “several other innovations by the Commission in the 2019-2022 period peculiarly made the 2023 General Election unique. It was the first general election to be conducted after the amendment of the Electoral Act 2022. “

Furthermore, the Presidential and National Assembly election, for the first time in two Electoral Cycles 2010-2015 and 2015-2019, was held on schedule without postponement as a result of logistics or other challenges. Moreover, voter access to polling units was expanded countrywide after 25 years when in June 2021 the Commission converted the 56,872 Voting Points and Voting Point Settlements into full-fledged Polling Units, bringing the number of polling units in Nigeria to 176,846.
“In addition to expanding voter access to polling units, the Commission also relocated 749 polling units from inappropriate to more appropriate public facilities or open spaces to guarantee unencumbered access for all voters. Sequel to the foregoing, there was voter migration and inadvertently, de-congestion of some over-crowded polling units. This exercise is ongoing as some polling units are still congested as a result of voter reluctance to relocate mainly for security considerations.”

The Commission, while highlighting some of the challenges it encountered during the election said
apart from attacks on its facilities, the currency swap and the limit placed on cash withdrawals from banks constituted encumbrances to the last elections.

It said: “The implementation of electoral activities were not without challenges, the most devastating of which was the spate of attacks on Commission’s personnel and facilities by thugs, unknown gun persons, and arsonists nationwide. During the period between the 2019 General Election and 12th December 2022, the Commission suffered over 50 attacks on its buildings and facilities in various LGAs and State Offices across 15 States of the federation in which vehicles, office equipment and election materials were destroyed.

“Furthermore, currency swap by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the limit placed on cash withdrawals from banks constituted encumbrances on the Commission’s operations for the payment to some unbanked service providers and the ability of particularly transport providers to service and fuel vehicles in boats and motorcycles in readiness for Election Duty.
“The prevailing fuel scarcity across the country and inadequate numbers of vehicles and boats for the transportation of election personnel and materials within the required timeframe posed a great challenge to the logistics plan for the election.

“This is more so considering the size and diversity of Nigeria, as well as the state of national infrastructure. Indeed, the election is the largest and most complex logistics undertaking in Nigeria involving the simultaneous movement of personnel and material to 176,846 polling units across 8,809 wards spread across 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in 36 states and FCT.”