CHATHAM HOUSE: Youths Will Decide Elections –INEC Chair

CHATHAM HOUSE: <strong>Youths Will Decide Elections </strong>–INEC Chair
  • Says expectations place great responsibility on us
  • .Experience will count in 7th elections since 1999 –Yakubu
  • Commission records 50 attacks, joined in 791 court cases as at Jan. 6

By Mbachu Godwin and Caleb Ishaya, Abuja 

Barely thirty eight days to the general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu has revealed that the Nigerian youths will decide the outcome of the elections, adding that the youths are the highest number of voters. 

 The INEC chairman made this disclosure yesterday at Chatham House London, where he gave a breakdown of voter registration, collection of Permanent Voter’s Card as well as preparation made by the commission.

 Yakubu was invited by the Royal Institute of International Affairs otherwise known as Chatham House to brief it on the preparedness of the electoral umpire on the forthcoming February 25, Presidential Election. 

He assured that despite the challenges and attacks on the commission’s facilities, the Commission will deliver a credible election, noting that expectations place great responsibility on the agency to deliver.

 According to Yakubu, records on ground indicated that the election would be dominated by the Nigerian youths who have shown much interest in the electoral process. The Not Too Young to Run Act which was assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari and the desire by the young people to participate in the country’s electoral process informed the huge number being recorded by the youths. 

He said, “We have 93.4 million registered voters of which 37 million, that is 39.5% are young people between the ages of 18 and 34. Then, they are closely followed by 33.4 million or 36.75% middle age voters between 35 and 49. Put together, these two categories constitute 75.39% of registered voters in Nigeria.

 “Actually, the 2023 election is the election of the young people because they have the numbers. Even the majority of the PVCs collected are collected by young people. So, out of the 93.4 million registered voters, 70.4 million are between the ages of 18 and 49”, Yakubu said.

…Nigeria has 16.7m voters more than rest of West Africa

The INEC Boss said available data indicates that voters in Nigeria are 16.7 million higher than the rest of West Africa.

“Based on figures compiled from electoral commissions and interior ministries in West Africa, Nigeria’s current voter population is 16.7 million higher than the 76.7 million registered in all the other countries put together – and there are 14 other elections in the sub-region.

“This means that a general election in Nigeria is like conducting an election in the whole of West Africa and beyond”

Speaking further on the speculation of plans to suspend the elections scheduled for February 25 and March 11, he reiterated that the commission is not contemplating to postpone the polls. 

“We are going ahead to conduct the election as scheduled”, he said, adding that though there are “tremendous” challenges and expectations of INEC, the Commission was a beneficiary of “enormous” goodwill in Nigeria and beyond.

…INEC ready for Run-off in Presidential Poll

 Speaking further on the issue of run-off in the presidential poll, he said the commission is prepared for such an occurrence. 

“In case of the presidential run-off, INEC has prepared. We also prepared for that possibility.

“So with every election in the last three electoral cycles, we also make provision for the possibility of run-off in case it happens.

 “If it happens we have no issues. Fortunately the timeframe has also been extended. The alteration to the Constitution has extended it by two more weeks. So it is now three weeks compared to the former one week”.

 He stressed the need for elected presidential candidates to receive a majority of the vote and over 25% of the vote in at least 24 of the 36 states.

…Experience will count in 7th elections since 1999 –Yakubu

Since 1999, Nigeria has been conducting regular general elections following the restoration of civilian-democratic rule governance after many years of military rule. The 2023 general election will be the seventh consecutive general election in Nigeria. This fact makes this the longest period of electoral democracy in the country’s history. Previous periods of electoral democracy were relatively short, repeatedly truncated by military interventions.

… Attacks on INEC Facilities

 Insecurity has also snowballed into the commission as the rising attacks on INEC facilities, materials and staff is worrisome. In four years (2019 – 2022), the Commission experienced fifty attacks on its facilities, mostly in the form of arson and vandalisation. In these attacks, buildings, election materials and vehicles were destroyed. Sometimes, these attacks have even targeted staff. For instance, during the Continuous Voter Registration , CVR, some staff of the Commission in Imo State was attacked, resulting in injuries and death. Also the INEC was joined in over 500 cases that ordinarily do not concern the commision.

…Early Choice of Election Technology Tools

He noted that the early choice of election technology management tools, especially the main election technology, is very critical for the success of the elections. 

“We know that political actors often try to undermine the process by attacking the technology, casting doubts on its suitability, bypassing its use or indeed seeking to undermine its security.

 “This informed the early choice of a new voter accreditation technology, using an electronic device called Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, and INEC Result Viewing Portal,   IRev”, he said.

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