The President Nigeria Union of Journalists
The Secretary to the Commission
The Director General of the Electoral Institute
Directors and other Senior Officials of the Commission
Members of the INEC Press Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. On behalf of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), let me warmly welcome you all to our second regular quarterly meeting for this year. Since our last meeting held on 21st January this year, the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) has been repealed and replaced by the Electoral Act 2022, which came into force on Friday 25th February 2022. This is the fourth time that the Electoral Act was repealed and re-enacted in Nigeria since 1999. On this note, the Commission appreciates the media for the sustained advocacy that resulted in this historic accomplishment. It is now time to ensure the effective implementation of the law. In doing so, the Commission will continue to work very closely and collaboratively with the media organisations and all other stakeholders.
2. Based on the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, the Commission released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election over two months ago. Since then, the official notice for the election has been published as required by law. Similarly, all the 18 political parties in Nigeria have forwarded the schedules for the conduct of their primaries to the Commission and some have commenced the process of choosing their candidates by conducting Ward and Local Government congresses.
3. Beyond the conduct of primaries by political parties, the Commission is required to make Regulations and Guidelines for the implementation of the provisions of the Electoral Act. I am glad to report that the Commission will finalise the document next week to guide the conduct of future elections, including the forthcoming Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections as well as the 2023 General Election.
4. With regard to the Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections, the Commission is processing applications by media organisations for accreditation. I wish to reassure you that all applications will be carefully considered and expeditiously treated. The Commission will also work with the security agencies to ensure the safety and security of journalists and their unimpeded access to all voting and collation locations during elections.
5. There are many progressive provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 which require clear understanding to guide implementation. One of such provisions is the electronic transmission of election results. At this meeting, we will discuss the implementation of the provisions of Sections 60, 62 and 64 of the Electoral Act 2022 regarding the management of election results. We have prepared a document for discussion which is included in your folders for this meeting.
6. As you are aware, the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise ends next month i.e. 30th June 2022. Both the online pre-registration as well as the physical registration at designated centres are taking place simultaneously. However, online pre-registrants would require time to schedule appointments to complete their registration physically at designated centers. For this reason, the Commission has decided to suspend the online registration in the next three weeks i.e. 30th May 2022. This will enable the online registrants to complete their registration physically at the designated centres before the exercise is suspended on 30th June 2022. This will enable the Commission to clean up the registration data, print the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and compile the register ahead of the 2023 General Election.
7. On the cleaning up of the registration data, the Commission addressed a Press Conference four weeks ago to present a report on the CVR exercise covering the period from June to December 2021. For the first time, the Commission deployed the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) which is a comprehensive and robust system involving not just the fingerprint identification but also the facial biometric recognition. The report of the ABIS is included among the documents in your folders for this meeting. There will also be a presentation on the exercise by our ICT Department.
8. On election technology, we have reviewed the functionality of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) following the complaints received after the recent Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) held on 12th February 2022. Two weeks later, the Commission conducted six bye-elections in four States across four geo-political zones of the country covering rural, sub-urban and urban areas. It was the most extensive geo-political deployment of the BVAS since it was pioneered in the Isoko South I State Constituency bye-election in Delta State in June last year. In these bye-elections, the BVAS functioned optimally as attested to by the reports of field observers accredited by the Commission.
9. The lessons learnt from the most recent bye-elections have been taken into consideration as we prepare for the forthcoming Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections. The Commission has finished the configuration of the BVAS for the Ekiti State Governorship election. To further ensure optimal performance of the BVAS on Election Day, the Commission will undertake a mock voter accreditation exercise in Ekiti State ahead of the main election on 18th June 2022, the details of which will be announced shortly.
10. I thank you for honouring our invitation and once again I warmly welcome you to our second regular quarterly meeting for this year.