2023: We have no plan to jettison real-time polling unit result upload – INEC

...vows to track campaign spending, publishes financial guidelines Thursday

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has described as fake, reports in some sections of the media claiming that the commission was planning to jettison the INEC Result Viewing Portal(IREV) for the real-time upload of polling unit results at the 2023 general election.

Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, said this when he received the Commonwealth Pre-Election Assessment Mission to Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday.

Yakubu said the innovation was a brainchild of INEC and there was no way it would turn around to undermine itself, reiterating that the use of technology in enhancing the integrity of elections has come to stay.

He appreciated the contribution of the Commonwealth Observation Mission to the deepening of democracy through their progressive recommendations after the 2019 general election.

The INEC chairman reassured Nigerians and the international community of the commission’s commitment to safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process and delivering the best election ever in the history of Nigeria.

Yakubu said: “Let me seize this opportunity to respond to a story emanating from a section of the media that the commission has decided to jettison the uploading of the polling unit results real-time on election day. It should please be disregarded as fake news

“The Commission will upload polling unit results and citizens will have real-time access as we upload from polling units. This innovation was introduced by the commission and it cannot turn around to undermine itself, this technology has come to stay. We are serving the citizens, how can we deny citizens access to the results of a process conducted by them at the level of polling units?”

While acknowledging the progressive recommendations of the Common Wealth Observation team and its impact on the electoral process, he said; “we have always benefited from the insight of the Commonwealth.

Read also: 2023: I doubt if INEC under current setup can deliver credible poll – Onovo

“Nigeria is a proud member of the Commonwealth. I recall that in 2019 we benefited from the report submitted after the election. As you can see from the engagements we have had so far, we have taken those recommendations very seriously and that has been factored into the preparations for the 2023 general election, particularly for the improvement to the electoral legal framework.

“We have a brand-new law in Nigeria called the Electoral Act 2022, it is IT-friendly, and perhaps the most progressive of legislation as far as elections in Nigeria are concerned. The law has enabled the Commission to deploy technology in elections and is also very strong on inclusivity, particularly on provision of assistive devices for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs), is now a legal requirement as far as resources permit.

“As a Commission, we have been deploying some of these devices in the off-season elections in preparation for the General Election, we have introduced the brail ballot guide that enables the visually impaired to vote unassisted, and for those with albinism we introduced the magnifying glasses, and for the deaf we have posters.

“I want to assure you and reassure you that the 2023 general election is going to be our best ever. We are committed that the votes cast by Nigerians will determine the outcome of elections, nothing more, nothing less”.

Earlier, the Leader of the delegation, Abiola Sunmonu, explained that they were in Nigeria on a pre-election assessment mission, essentially to understand and appraise the preparation of Nigerian stakeholders for the 2023 polls.

Sunmonu said engaging with Nigeria’s electoral stakeholders was very important for the Commonwealth due to its strategic place in Africa and the world, adding that the world is interested in what goes on in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the INEC chairman said the commission is determined to track political parties campaign spending to ensure compliance with extant laws and checkmate vote buying.

Yakubu spoke at a national stakeholders forum on elections, organised by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (NCSSR) in Abuja.

He said the commission will on Thursday publish a summary of the guidelines on finances and election expenses of parties and candidates.

“Beyond that, we are mobilising every national institution with the responsibility for tracking and combating the illicit flow of funds as well as the broadcast and print media regulatory agencies to confront the problem head-on. The details of this will be unveiled shortly,” Yakubu said.

On electoral logistics, he noted the arrangements for the movement of personnel and materials to various locations during election, adding that the Commission met again with the service providers and reviewed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the road transport unions.

“However, there are four broad areas that Nigerians would like to receive assurances of the progress the Commission is making and challenges (if any) being encountered. They are security, campaign finance, technology, the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and assurances that their votes will count on Election Day,” he said.

In her remarks, Ene Obi, the convener of the NCSSR commended the commission for displaying the preliminary register of voters online for claims and objections.

Obi said that the Commission made improvements in the off-circle governorship elections it conducted since the 2019 general election.

She said: “There are still several challenges of utmost concern. Nigeria is currently grappling with multiple security challenges across the country.

“We also witnessed the most monetised political primaries ever in the just concluded political party primaries for the 2023 general elections. What do these all portend for the 2023 General election?”

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