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2023: We won’t bow to partisan whims, national interest will come first, INEC vows

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.

Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has assured Nigerians that it would only act in the national interest and won’t bow to partisan whims and caprices in the conduct of the elections.

Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the pledge on Thursday at the sixth annual conference of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) with the theme “2023 Elections: Managing The Process For Credible Outcome” held in Lagos.

While noting that the commission would discharge its duties with the highest sense of responsibility and integrity, Yakubu assured Nigerians that votes would continue to count and will be the sole determinant of the electoral outcome.

He said the commission has introduced many new innovations, supported by the deployment of appropriate technology, to protect the sanctity of the choice made by Nigerians at the polls.

These innovations, according to Yakubu, range from voter registration to voter accreditation and result management.

He said the deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) with its dual fingerprint and facial biometric accreditation process has ensured that only genuine voters are accredited to vote during elections.

“This has curtailed the incidence of multiple voting and other sharp practices associated with voter accreditation during elections. The BVAS has come to stay and will be the only means by which voters will be accredited in the 2023 General Election. The introduction of the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) Portal has made the result management procedure more transparent.

“Polling Unit results are now uploaded in real-time to the IReV portal for public view. This has enhanced the transparency, credibility and consequently public confidence in the outcome of elections. The IReV has come to stay and polling unit results will be uploaded to the portal in real-time in the 2023 General Election”, he stated.

As campaigns intensify, Yakubu urged political parties and candidates to commit themselves to peaceful electioneering campaigns in the spirit of the peace accord.

He said the commission would continue to pay attention to the conduct of parties, candidates and their supporters and ensure compliance with the provision of the law as well as its guidelines and regulations.

“We will pay particular attention to a peaceful campaign devoid of abusive, intemperate and slanderous language as well as the use of innuendoes or insinuations likely to provoke a counter-reaction resulting in the breach of the peace. Similarly, we will pay special attention to the observance of limits on party and candidate finance. I urge political parties and candidates to carefully study the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and familiarize themselves with their obligations as well as the penalties under the law”, he added.

The INEC chairman who described fake news as a threat to national security and a challenge to the electoral process said all hands must be on deck to check the menace.

He stressed the need for more collaboration against the spread of fake news, misinformation and disinformation that seek to create or exacerbate tension or de-legitimize processes and outcomes.

Yakubu said: “GOCOP must lead a network or alliance of stakeholders to curb fake news engineered by unpatriotic individuals. Fake news is a threat to national security and all hands must be on deck to check it. Managing this process requires in part, concerted efforts. We have noticed that your members have so far steered clear of fake news. We urge you to do more. GOCOP should come out strongly in the battle against fake news which is clearly a challenge to the electoral process going forward.

“We are happy to note that you have your peer review mechanism using your leaders to regularly remind every member of the need for credible journalism. This is highly commendable. We urge you to extend this beyond GOCOP to serve as a bulwark against the menace of fake news.

“I wish to assure you that for us at INEC, the national interest comes first. We shall not pander to any partisan whims and caprices. We pledge to discharge our duties with the highest sense of responsibility and integrity.”

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