2023: INEC Chairman Assures United Nations of Credible Polls
•Says elections in Nigeria is like conducting same in whole of W’Africa
•APC will win presidential election, Adamu tells visiting UN officials
Chuks Okocha and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu yesterday assured the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWAS) and the Sahel of a credible general elections in 2023.
He also stated that conducting elections in Nigeria was daunting, saying doing so was like conducting elections in the entire West Africa.
The INEC Chairman told the special representative of UNOWAS, Mahmat Saleh Annadif who paid a visit to INEC that, “Nigerians will determine who they want in the 2023 general election and we will continue to uphold the choice made by Nigerians.
“So I want to assure you that we will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that our elections continue to get better and better and the democratic environment is increasingly consolidated. We look forward to seeing you again before and during the election.”
The INEC chairman said each time Nigeria conducts a general election, it’s like a general election in the whole of West Africa.
According to the INEC chairman, “there are 15 countries in the sub-region. In order to show the importance of Nigeria in our democracy, as at today, we have 84 million registered voters but Nigeria is one out of 15 countries in the sub-region.
“But, the total number of registered voters in the other 14 countries put together, is 73 million, meaning that Nigeria has 11 million voters more than other countries in the sub-region put together.”
Furthermore, he said, “we appreciate the enormous responsibility the Commission is charged with. Election is both national and international; we have very good working relationship with strategic partners and allies in the country, we work very closely with the political parties, civil society organisations, media, security agencies in the country but at the same time we also work closely with our friends in the international community such as UNOWAS.”
Commending the UN special envoy for the visit, Yakubu said, “so whenever you come on this kind of mission, we feel fully encouraged to continue to do what we need to do for the peace and stability of our sub-region.
“So, I want to assure you that we will continue to do what is right on the basis of the law, the ultimate choice is going to be made by Nigerians.”
The UN envoy said his team was in the country to ascertain parts of the preparations for the 2023 general elections, stating that the peace, stability as well as security of Nigeria was very important to the sub-region
The UN envoy added: “We are here at the time Nigeria is preparing to hold election next year, 2023. For us the peace and stability and the security in the region depend also on Nigeria. Nigeria as we always say is a good example, we are happy that the candidates are already selected.
“The United Nations will always be supportive to Nigeria so that this election will take place peacefully. We congratulate you and we will support you again for the work been done and the work you will do in preparing for this election,” he stated.
Meanwhile, in a separate meeting with Annadif, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abdulahi Adamu boasted that the ruling party would win the 2023 presidential election.
Adamu, who was represented by the Deputy National Chairman, North, Senator Abubakar Kyari said this to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and Head of the UN Office for West and Sahel who was on a courtesy visit in Abuja.
He said the ruling party considered the gubernatorial election that recently took place in Ekiti State as a referendum and a vote of confidence in the party.
Adamu said: “We wish to inform the SRSG that the APC is poised to go into the general elections in the country with commitment to observing the rule of law and intend to participate peacefully.
“Being the ruling Party and one with the largest number of registered members numbering 43 million people, the APC has every stake in the orderly and peaceful conduct of the elections across Nigeria.
“The APC considers the gubernatorial election that recently took place in Ekiti State as a referendum and a vote of confidence in the party and a pointer to 2023 when the party hopes to form the government in the center and also in most of the states across the six geopolitical zones of the country.”
The ruling party assured that it was committed to the ideals of democratic governance and observance of rule of law in all its undertakings, adding that, “it shall continue to apply them diligently while canvassing for votes and while it forms the next national government in 2023.”
Earlier, Annadif who led the 8-member delegation said the UN would like to witness a peaceful and transparent elections in 2023.
He said, “We met this morning with officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and we plan to meet with all the key actors in Nigeria with a very simple message. We will like to see the coming elections going peacefully and accepted in all parts of Nigerians.
“With the APC in power, you have a very important role to play. We will like to emphasize that the UN is with you and supporting you.
“As I like to say, when Nigeria sneezes, the entire region catches cold. So we like and hope that Nigeria stays in good health and be the locomotive for other regions and this is why we will expect the APC to support peaceful elections.”