We are determined to initiate legal reforms ahead 2023 election ― INEC Chairman

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has declared that his Commission was determined to reform the nation’s electoral process ahead of the 2023 polls.

He gave the indication on Friday at a meeting with the Chief Observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission, Maria Arena.

Professor Yakubu told his guest that recommendations to be provided by the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) in the 2019 polls, would form major inputs in the areas of reform expected to be submitted to the  Ninth National Assembly which was inaugurated on Tuesday.

The EU is expected to formally release its report and recommendations on the 2019 general elections today (Saturday)  in Abuja.

Saturday Tribune findings revealed that over  70 political parties which fielded candidates in last general elections have passed a vote of confidence on the leadership of INEC,  for conducting a transparent poll despite the challenges it encountered.

To convince Maria Arena on the electoral umpire trust in the EU, Professor Yakubu disclosed that the 30 observations and recommendations provided by the EU election observation mission in 2015 were very useful in improving Nigeria’s electoral processes, including consolidating its democratic system since 1999.

The INEC chairman noted that the EU recommendation to his Commission that it should merge the accreditation and voting processes on election day, has been implemented as the electoral umpire experimented with it when it conducted governorship election in  Bayelsa 2015.

While applauding the EU for her special interest in Nigeria’s democratic processes, the INEC chairman recalled that  91 observers were deployed to 261 polling units and 94 collation centres in 31 States of the Federation during the last  Presidential and National Assembly elections by the EU.

He further recalled that the international body equally deployed 73 observers to 223 polling units and 81 collation centres in 22 States of the Federation for the Governorship, State Assembly and the  Federal Capital Territory Area Council elections.

He said: “Every election in any democracy around the world is work in progress. We, therefore, look forward to the full EU EOM report and recommendations on the elections. We are confident that there will be useful lessons for the Commission as we prepare for future elections.

“Indeed, the report is coming at the right time as it will feed into our ongoing review of the conduct of the elections.

“Let me assure you that the Commission will again quickly focus attention on the electoral legal framework in addition to several other areas of reform. We will study in detail all your recommendations as part of our ongoing internal review of the 2019 general elections which we hope to conclude in the next two months.

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“Immediately thereafter, we shall engage with the leadership of the 9th National Assembly on areas that require legislation while implementing aspects of the reform within the powers of the Commission in full consultation with stakeholders. There is so much work to do but little time ahead of us”.

He expressed the readiness of INEC to continue to partner with the EU to consolidate democracy in Nigeria.

“The EU has been part of Nigeria’s steady progress towards democratic consolidation since 1999. The observations and recommendations of the EU Election Observation Mission to the 2015 general elections were particularly useful not only in the design of some important proposals for reforming the electoral legal framework but also in improving our electoral processes and procedures.

“One of the key recommendations was that we merge the accreditation and voting processes on election day, which was subsequently implemented during the Bayelsa governorship election of December 2015 and in all subsequent elections. The implementation of some of the other recommendations went a long way in enhancing our organisational and operational planning and strengthening our engagement with stakeholders”.

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