Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday reassured Nigerians of its neutrality in the lead up to the polls, declaring that it has no preferred candidates.
INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, gave the assurance in Abuja at the fourth Prof. Abubakar Momoh Memorial Lecture.
The lecture, which had as its theme, “Electoral Act 2022: Imperatives for Political Parties and the 2023 General Election”, was designed to enlighten and sensitise political parties on the new provisions in the Act and the derivative subsidiary laws of the Commission.
He said; “Let me draw your attention to the fact that the use of electronic devices such as the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS), INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED), INEC Results Viewing Portal IRev, and other technological devices, are now legally allowed in the accreditation process for voters, collation of results and in the general conduct of elections.
“Please be assured that these innovations are intended to deepen the electoral process in our country and their optimal performance in the just concluded gubernatorial election in Ekiti and Osun states is an eloquent testimony to their electoral value. We shall only do more to consolidate their deployment in our election.
“Once again, I wish to assure you that INEC has no preferred party or candidate. We shall only ensure that all valid votes count and the winners are decided solely by the voters.”
The INEC chair added, “I will only remind you that these imperatives contained in the Electoral Act are ingredients for party building, stabilisation of electoral rules, and democratic consolidation. These are milestones in nation-building for which Prof. Abubakar fought for in his lifetime.
“He was always at the forefront of advocating for a free, fair, credible and participatory electoral system through research, capacity-building for the staff of the commission, and engagement of vigorous voter education activities.
“I hold a conviction that the discussions would be robust and engaging, and that party chairmen and members present would be committed to ensuring that the 2023 general election would be devoid of deliberate infractions to the 2022 Electoral Act, essentially by allowing the electoral process to run smoothly, thereby growing a rich democratic culture and acceptable election outcome.
“INEC will scrupulously apply the laws without fear or favour to ensure free, fair, credible, inclusive and transparent elections come February, 2023,” Yakubu added.