The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has called on the National Peace Committee (NPC), to engage actors in the political space early enough, in order to minimize incidences of electoral violence in the 2023 general election.
Also, Chairman of the Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, yesterday, announced that INEC would release the regulations and guidelines for the 2023 general election ten months to the exercise.
However, Yakubu reached out to the NPC, when he received a delegation from the committee alongside Representatives from the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Kofi Annan Foundation, led by the Head of the NPC Secretariat, Rev. Father Atta Barkindo, who represented Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, at the INEC Headquarters yesterday.
The INEC chairman, who appreciated the contribution of the committee to peaceful elections through the Peace Accord initiative introduced in 2015, noted that, “nations are lucky when they have moral voices, that their authority does not draw from statutory provisions, it exists purely from moral persuasion, and people listen.
“That is why I think it is a big plus for us as a nation to have a national peace committee and the calibre of people involved in the National Peace Committee,” he added.
Appealing to the General Abdulsalam Abubakar-led Committee for its intervention with regards to electoral violence, Yakubu said, “One of the things that the National Peace Committee can help us do in terms of mitigating security challenges is early engagement with some of the actors.
“Not just signing the peace accord on the eve of elections, but imagine that some of those, who perpetrate violence on election day are not necessarily candidates in the election, but are people engaged by beneficiaries of the election. So, if we can engage with the actors early enough, I hope that we will be able to turn a new leaf in that respect.”
Earlier, Bishop Mathew Kukah and Convener of the meeting, appreciated the support of INEC towards cascading the peace accord from the national level to the states, noting that the support and the successes recorded endeared the Kofi Anan Foundation and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs to the NPC.
Kukah explained that they were at the Commission to seek ways to deepen the existing relationship between the NPC and INEC.
Meanwhile, Yakubu on election guidelines, when he received a delegation from John D and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation led by its president, John Palfrey, on Monday at the INEC Headquarters Abuja.
He said the readiness of the operational document of the election was made possible by the early passage and assent to the amendment to the Electoral Act.
The regulations and guidelines are the daily operational manuals for the 2023 general election.
Yakubu recalled that the operation of the commission in the build-up to the 2019 general election, was seriously constrained by time due to the uncertainty that trailed the electoral legal framework, which saw the commission signing off on the regulations and guidelines on the 19th of January, 2019, few weeks to the election.
“But we hope that this time around, we will sign off on the Regulations and Guidelines at least 10 months before the next general election, which is very good progress for us,” he said.
According to him, the new “the Electoral Act has been repealed and re-enacted. It was not just a question of amendment, the amendments were so extensive, so eventually the National Assembly repealed and re-enacted the electoral act,” adding that, “This is the 3rd time since 1999, where the country is repealing and re-enacting the Electoral Act.
“We are happy with the assent, we now have a new electoral law, on the bases of which we commenced work on the Regulations and Guidelines. The Electoral Act cannot say everything, so the National Assembly donates part of its power to INEC to make Regulations and Guidelines and these Regulations and Guidelines have forms of subsidiary legislation.”
President of John D and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, John Palfrey, in his remarks, congratulated the Commission for the successes achieved in areas where it made recommendations after the 2019 general election.
“I wish also to recall having been able to visit in 2019 and we discussed several things that were underway at that time. One was the progress of the Electoral Act, and I’d like to congratulate you on the passage of the Electoral Act.
“Second, we discussed and encouraged the creation of a new department on Gender and Inclusivity, here at INEC and congratulate you on the creation of this department and the successful implementation.
“The third thing we discussed was the creation of new polling units and I understand that these too have been completed and that you are well in preparation for 2023.”