INEC Holds General Elections On Schedule For First Time Since 2011
For the first time since 2011, Nigeria’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) held a presidential election without postponement.
In fact, the unprecedented feat achieved by the electoral umpire since 2011 was deservingly mentioned by INEC chief, Mahmood Yakubu who briefed reporters on Saturday from the West African country’s political capital city of Abuja amid the February 25 presidential and National Assembly polls.
“As Nigerians are aware, this is the first time since 2011 that a general election has not been postponed after it was scheduled,” the delighted professor noted commendingly, adding that “it is part of the commission’s determination to do what is right”.
Many Nigerians had doubted the electoral chief when he said on Friday, a few hours into the polls that the February 25 polls and the March 11 Governorship and State Assemblies’ elections will hold as planned, ruling out any postponement which had consistently characterised Nigeria’s general elections since 2011
On Saturday, Accreditation and voting commenced around 08:30 am at most of the 176,606 polling units scattered across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory that make up Nigeria as 87.2 million voters with Permanent Voter Cards go to the polls to elect a new president and members of the country’s National Assembly.
Four frontline candidates in the race to become the next President of Africa’s most populous country have already cast their votes at their respective polling units in parts of Nigeria.
Though 18 candidates are in the race, pollsters and analysts have described the contest as a four-horse race between Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP).
One of the uniqueness of this year’s election is the deployment of the Bimodal Voter Registration Systems (BVAS), the technological system stipulated in the Electoral Act of 2022 which allows the accreditation of voters through biometrics capturing, and uploading of results amongst others
Yakubu had assured Nigerians that election results will be speedily released.
A Record-Breaking Poll Since 2011
Historically, INEC rescheduled the 2011, 2015, and 2019 general elections due to security, logistics, and operational challenges but the 2023 polls will go down as historic being the first election to hold as scheduled since 2011.
In 2011, INEC shifted the elections three times; the first, was after voting had begun in some states on April 2, 2011. Then INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega cited the late arrival of electoral materials in parts of the country for the postponements.
The electoral body further moved the presidential and National Assembly polls to April 9 and then to April 16; while the governorship and state Houses of Assembly election were shifted from April 23 to April 26.
Former Bayelsa State Governor and the then acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, who contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was declared winner of the presidential election.
The situation was not anyway different in 2015 as INEC postponed the polls six days before the earlier scheduled dates, citing insecurity. The electoral body shifted the Presidential and National Assembly polls from February 14 to March 28, 2015, while the Governorship and State Assemblies’ polls were moved to April 11, 2015.
Jega attributed the postponement to the insurgency in Nigeria’s troubled North-East zone which he said could affect the safety of election personnel, voters, and materials.
A former military head of state, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) defeated the incumbent, then-President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP to emerge winner of the keenly contested poll.
A repeat played out four years ago as INEC shifted the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly Elections from February 16 to February 23, 2019, while it moved the Governorship/State House of Assembly/Federal Capital Territory Area Council elections to March 9, 2019, due to “logistics and operational plans”.
The incumbent, APC’s Buhari won the 2019 presidential election and secured another term of four years
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