The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has confirmed that it would publish the final list of candidates for Presidential, Senate and House of Representatives seats in the 2023 general elections on 20 September.
That is in keeping with the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the elections, which INEC released last February.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said on Thursday in Abuja at the ”Expert Meeting on Conducting Nigeria’s 2023 General Elections in Volatile Security Environment” said that the publication of the final list was in line with Section 32(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022 and the Timetable and Schedule of Activities released by the commission.
The event was organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in conjunction with INEC.
“This will be followed on 4 October by the publication of the final list of candidates for state elections (Governorship and State Houses of Assembly).
”Campaign in public by political parties will officially commence on 28 September as provided for by Section 94(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
”As campaigns commence, we appeal to all political parties and candidates to focus on issue-based campaigns.
“This is the best way to complement our efforts to ensure transparent elections in which only the votes cast by citizens determine the winner”, he said.
The INEC Chairman said activities for the polls would enter critical stages this month from the next 19 days onward.
“The commission welcomes this initiative and as Co-Chairman of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security, there is no doubt that the security agencies also welcome ideas and citizens’ support towards peaceful elections”, he said.
CDD Director, Ms Idayat Hassan said that the meeting was being held against the background of security challenges plaguing the country.
Hassan said the idea was to start talking about how to deescalate the tension and how to secure the environment, such that INEC would be able to assess all parts of the country to conduct peaceful and legitimate election come 2023.
“I think one for this election, the security of election materials, the security of personnel, the security of voters are in context and there is actually problem in INEC assessing all areas.
“We should note that this is not just an INEC problem, this is a stakeholder’s problem, insecurity is already prevailing.
“The challenge we are having is how to do we conduct election against the background of this prevailing insecurity? It will behold on the Federal Government and other stakeholders to come in”.
The Development Director for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Mr Chris Pycroft said that the office was delighted to be partnering with CDD and providing funding for the event, and related activity to promote peaceful and secure elections in 2023.
According to Pycroft, this is a top priority for the United Kingdom in Nigeria over the coming six months, and one of multiple initiatives in partnership with Nigerian and international stakeholders.
”The stakes have never felt higher. Nigeria is facing more challenges than ever before in its democratic history to running a peaceful and secure election.
“These elections are profoundly important not only for Nigeria but also for the African continent and democracy across the world”, he said.
Pycroft said there was more at stake in terms of the unity and peaceful co-existence of Nigeria’s diverse religious, ethnic and cultural communities.
An Election Expert for CDD, Prof. Adebayo Olukoshi said that Nigeria was challenged with several security challenges and there was need to seek ways to curb them before the election.
Olukoshi said that there was also the need to understand the various conflicts being faced with a view to developing a topology that would best address them.