INEC: In 2023,Clear Winners Must Score Highest Votes in Poll, 25 percent of Votes in Two-thirds of 36 States
• Assures of electronic processes, including Bvas, ABIS
• Cautions against abusive campaigns, campaigning in worship centres, use of vigilante groups for security
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has restated that the winner of the presidential election next year must score the highest votes and the required 25 percent in two-thirds spread in the 36 states of the federation. It said where a clear winner did not emerge, there would be a second election between the person with the highest votes and the person with the spread, but not necessarily the second highest votes scored.
National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Information, Festus Okoye, stated this at a meeting with the European Union Support to Democratic Governments in Nigeria, Phase 11.
According to Okoye, “By Section 134 of the constitution, where there are more than two presidential candidates, for a presidential candidate to be declared duly elected, he must secure the highest number of votes cast at the election; and not less than a quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two thirds of all the states in the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
“In a governorship contest, the candidate must secure the highest number of votes cast and quarter of the votes cast in two-thirds of all the local government areas of the state.
“In the event of a candidate not securing this threshold, the commission must conduct a second election. Not all the 18 registered political parties sponsoring candidates will participate in this second election. Only two political parties and two candidates will be on the ballot for the second or runoff election. The first will be the presidential candidate that secured the highest number of lawful votes in the federation.
“The second is the one among the remaining candidates, who has a majority of votes in the highest number of states, so where there is more than one candidate with a majority of the votes in the highest number of states, the candidate among them with the highest total votes cast at the election shall be the second candidate for election.”
The INEC commissioner said the Electoral Act 2022 had validated the technological innovations deployed by the commission, saying it has cemented the place of the Smart Card Readers/BimodalVoter Accreditation System (BVAS) in the voter accreditation process, which was hitherto an administrative decision provided in the commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections.
Okoye noted that the Supreme Court applauded the introduction of the Smart Card Readers in the Electoral Process, particularly, in the case of WIKE EZENWO NYESOM v. HON. (DR.) DAKUKU ADOL PETERSIDE & ORS(2016) LPELR-40036(SC).
According to Okoye, “It must be appreciated from the outset that Smart Card Reader Machine or simply Card Reader (SCRM for short), is an innovation in our Electoral Process.”
On his part, the INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, spoke against abusive language during campaigns. Yakubu said, “The commission is conscious that a credible voter register is the basic requirement for the conduct of a credible election. We have, therefore, devoted time and energy to the cleaning up of the voter register, using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS).
“This process is almost finalised and the commission will engage with stakeholders relating to its findings before displaying the register for claims and objections, as required by law.
“Furthermore, the commission is working out a protocol for seamless collection of Permanent Voters Cards by valid registrants.
“I want to assure Nigerians that the commission will deploy and continue to deploy appropriate technology for the conduct of elections. The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and INEC Result Viewing Portal (IreV) will be deployed for the conduct of the 2023 general election.
“We will continue to use technology to improve and enhance the credibility of elections in Nigeria. Our goal is electoral justice where every Nigerian will experience electoral fulfilment. The commission has undertaken eight out of the 14 items on the Calendar and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election.
“We urge all the 18 registered political parties to critically study and pay attention to the provisions of the constitution, the Electoral Act, the Police Act and the Public Order Act for the proper and peaceful conduct of political campaigns, rallies and processions.
“A political campaign or slogan shall not be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly likely to injure religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings.
“Abusive, intemperate, slanderous or base language or innuendoes designed or likely to provoke violent reaction or emotions shall not be employed or used in political campaigns.
“Let me also remind the media of their constitutional and legal obligations. State apparatus, including the media, shall not be employed to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election.
“In other words, equal coverage and visibility shall be allotted to all political parties by all public print and electronic media organisations. The same applies in equal measure to private owned media organisations subject to payment of appropriate fees.”