INEC to Staff: Remain Firm, They’ll Drag You Into Mud Fight

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•Promises to release timetable for 2023 general elections soon

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

The leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, charged its members of staff to remain firm ahead of the 2023 general election, because there would be many attempts to plant negative stories against the commission with a view to dragging it into a mud fight.

INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, who said this yesterday at a Capacity Building Workshop for Heads of Voter Education and Publicity (VEP) and Public Affairs Officers of the Commission from 17 Southern states of Nigeria, also hinted that the commission would soon release the timetable for the 2023 general election.

He emphasised the need for INEC’s staff to remain firm and courageous, while engaging the public, warning that some critical stakeholders might misunderstand some of the actions, processes and procedures of the Commission, adding that different meanings would be read into well-intentioned processes and procedures.

According to him, “The Commission is a public trust and must be open and transparent. We must, on no account, personalise the issues. We must respond to those that deserve our response and allow the Nigerian people to take a position. Some of the critical stakeholders may misunderstand some of our actions, processes and procedures and read different meaning into well-intentioned processes and procedures.

“It is our responsibility to provide clarity and dispel negative notions and insinuations with potentially damaging impact on the electoral process. Some persons may go to the extent of planting negative stories about the Commission and in the process attempt to drag the Commission into a mud fight.

“Some people may, by acts of commission or omission, portray the Commission in bad light. It is our responsibility to remain firm, focused, courageous and engaging,” he said

Okoye explained that 2022 would be busy and challenging for the Commission, stressing that it would present complex realities and showcase the complexities of our democracy and electoral process.

His words: “In the year 2022, the Commission will release the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 general election. The Commission will give the statutory notice signifying the date of election and the place for the submission of nominations.

“The Timetable and Schedule of Activities will contain the period for the commencement of campaigns and rallies in public by Political Parties and the last day of campaigns by Political Parties. It will contain the period for party primaries and submission of names of nominated candidates and resolution of issues and challenges arising from party primaries.

“It will contain the period for the submission of personal particulars of candidates, withdrawal, and the replacement of candidates and publication of the final list of candidates. It will contain the period for the submission of the names of poll agents. It will set out the period for the publication of official register of voters and the Notice of Poll and election date,” he said.