Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, says the commission will not fail the nation in the conduct of 2019 General Elections.
Yakubu made this promise while speaking at the 6th Anniversary Lecture and Investiture into the Realnews Hall of Fame held in Lagos on Thursday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the event was tagged: “Political Transitions and Africa’s Economic Development: Preparations for Nigeria’s 2019 General Elections”.
According to Yakubu, the commission is not unaware that the conduct of 2019 elections is a tough task, but INEC is determined to leave no stone unturned to conduct free, fair and credible elections.
He said that INEC was deeply committed to democratic elections that would contribute to political stability and consolidation of democracy which would propel the nation to greater economic prosperity.
Yakubu said: “It is true that political stability is a prerequisite for economic growth and development. It is also true that no economy flourishes in a situation of uncertainty.
“Nations cannot develop if they are unstable. We have seen nations and cities destroyed by unacceptable electoral outcomes.
“Democratic transition through periodic and credible elections is the best way to ensure certainty that will guarantee and sustain political stability.
“We will never ever fail the nation. Our commitment is that we will never give Nigerians excuses.
“The commission has embarked on diligent preparations to ensure that the 2019 general elections is credible and meets the goals of election integrity.”
Yakubu said there could be no peaceful or sustainable political transition and consequential economic and other benefits to citizens without credible and peaceful elections through a transparent and inclusive electoral process.
To achieve this goal, the INEC chairman called on all stakeholders — governments, election administrators, security agencies, civil society groups, the media, political parties, candidates and their supporters — to play their roles.
According to him, the commission has embarked on the consolidation of full biometric voter registration through the Continuous Voter Registration between April 27 and Aug. 31, among other preparations.
He said that at the end of the exercise, some 14.5 million Nigerians were added to the existing register of about 70 million, and the voters register for the 2019 elections had hit 84.2million.
Yakubu, who called for support of all stakeholders for the collection of PVCs, said that a new approach to the collection would commence early in December and continue until a week to the elections.
According to him, the PVCs of those who registered in 2017 and those who registered in the first and second quarters of 2018 have been printed and delivered to states.
He said that the cards for those who registered in the third quarter of 2018 would be delivered by the end of November, which include all cards for those who applied for intra and interstate transfer and replacements.
Yakubu said there would not be any use of incidence forms, instead, manual register of voters had been redesigned to provide for a box for thumb printing and telephone number of any voter whose biometric was not authenticated by the Smart Card Readers.
According to him, the commission has harmonised accreditation and voting, carried out greater engagement, installation of trackers, enhancement of Smart Card Readers and improved logistics.
He said: “We are working to ensure optimal performance of the Smart Card Readers.”
Yakubu highlighted INEC challenges to include do or die mentality of politicians, vote-buying, lack of internal democracy, incendiary speech, security, impunity and lack of consequences for electoral offenders.
According to him, impact of litigation and conflicting court orders are also affecting the commission, but the electoral body continues to put in efforts to improve the conduct of elections in Nigeria.
He lamented that there were increasing pre-election cases, with the commission being joined in 273 court actions and numerous petitions.
Earlier in his remarks, Dr Haroun Adamu, the Chairman of the occasion and former Chairman, Petroleum Trust Fund, said that social media platforms had been so influential in information dissemination.
Adamu said: “They are the major opinion shapers and are influential. The business model adopted by Realnews is very forward-thinking and can be described as being ahead of the crowd.
“The team must continue to strive to remain dynamic, flexible and willing to adopt as the environment evolves with advances in technology, particularly in artificial intelligence.”
He urged Realnews and other media to be the cornerstone of investigative journalism in Nigeria and Africa, and be change agents in the Nigerian social and political landscape, focusing on key sectors of Nigeria’s economy.