By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu has asked the National Assembly to expedite action on the passage of the relevant legislations guiding the conduct of elections in the country to give the commission ample time to prepare for the 2019 general election.
He said that the next general election was only 470 days away, adding that the early passage of the legal framework would assist INEC in planning for the elections.
A statement issued by INEC’s Director in the Department of Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, quoted the commission’s chairman as conveying his concern when members of the Steering Committee of the Nigerian Institute of Legislative Studies (NILS), led by its chairman Hon. Aminu Shehu Shagari, visited him at the commission, in Abuja.
It said the INEC chairman also spoke on the budget for the 2019 general election, which he said would be ready next week after the commission validates and approves its election project plan.
He said: “The validation and approval of the Strategic Plan 2017-2021 and Strategic Programme of Action will give us a clear idea of how much it will cost this nation to conduct the 2019 general election.”
Yakubu commended the non-partisan nature of the NILS as an organ of the legislature as well as for its technical assistance to the democratic process.
He said the commission will seek to develop greater ties with NILS in the area of capacity building and training for political parties which would greatly help the work of INEC..
Earlier, Shagari, who is also a Member of the House of Representaives Committee on Electoral Matters, said the visit was to seek the cooperation of the commission in building a virile democratic institution in Nigeria through sustainable capacity building.
Meanwhile, against the background of mounting concerns by some stakeholders over the alleged plot by some persons to perpetrate violence during the Anambra governorship election, INEC has said that the November 18 election in the state will be peaceful and crisis-free.
The commission said at the weekend that a security assessment report it received showed an 87 per cent peaceful rating across the state.
INEC said the peaceful rating was revealed in a report on a study conducted by the Electoral Institute (TEI), in collaboration with some civil society organisations on Pre-Election Security Assessment of the state ahead of the election.
The report, which expressed optimism that the November 18 gubernatorial polls will largely be peaceful, indicated a peace rating of 87 per cent across the 21 local government areas of the state.
Although the report did not dismiss chances of isolated cases of security challenges, it was of the view that all forms of violence could be avoided if adequate mitigation measures are put in place.
“The security threats and risk factors in the governorship election should be seen as an early warning sign which the government, INEC, security agencies and other stakeholders should take seriously by developing proactive mitigation mechanisms to avoid a breakdown of law and order,” said the report.
The report also proffered recommendations on how to thwart security threats, saying these should include: “Promotion of peace, justice and fairness through sound political education among and by all stakeholders; fair and equitable dispensation of justice by the judiciary; demonstration of greater professionalism by the security agencies; and close surveillance of all groups and associations involved in disturbing the peace in the state.”