In New 526-page Document, INEC Insists 2023 General Election Was Unique

*Says no party dominated poll 

*Admits failure to upload presidential results impacted public perception

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reiterated  that the 2023 general election was free and fair, insisting that it reflected the wishes of Nigerians.
The commission revealed this in its comprehensive 526-page document on the 2023 general election that was released yesterday.
INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Sam Olumekun, in a statement, stated that  the report showcased the election’s unparalleled diversity in party representation, demonstrating significant democratic progress.
The commission however admitted that its failure to upload Polling Unit results of the presidential election to the INEC Result Viewing (iReV) portal in real-time impacted on the public perception of the election.
Olumekun said: “On Thursday, 22nd February 2024, the Commission convened for its weekly meeting, where the 2023 General Election Report was reviewed and approved for publication.
 “In keeping with our tradition over the last four electoral cycles, and our commitment to transparency, we are pleased to announce the release of the official INEC report on the 2023 General Election.
 “This comprehensive 526-page document, structured into 13 chapters and enhanced with 60 tables, 14 boxes and 10 graphs, offers an in-depth analysis of the election’s key processes, achievements, and challenges, alongside valuable lessons learned.”
 Olumekun said the report also showed that the 2023 elections saw four political parties winning gubernatorial elections; seven parties won senatorial seats, eight in federal constituencies and nine in State legislatures, illustrating a broad shift in political representation across Nigeria.
Olumekun added that the report underscores the pivotal role of technological advancements, particularly the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), in enhancing electoral integrity and reducing fraud.
He noted that the report addresses public concerns about the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal, explaining the technical issues encountered during the upload of polling unit results for the presidential election.
 Olumekun stressed that other aspects covered in the report included logistics, security arrangements, staff recruitment and training, inclusivity measures, and the electoral framework.
The report stated: “A key challenge that impacted on the public perception of the election and elicited widespread commentary is the failure to upload Polling Unit results of the presidential election to the INEC Result Viewing (iReV) portal in real-time at the close of polls on Saturday 25th February 2023.”
According to INEC,  the spread of results across party lines was better than in all elections that had been conducted in the country.
It however admitted that the currency swap by the Central Bank of Nigeria, attacks on INEC facilities and a few glitches were the challenges encountered during the elections.
It added: “The implementation of electoral activities were not without challenges, the most devastating of which was the spate of attacks on Commission’s personnel and facilities by thugs, unknown gunpersons, and arsonists nationwide.
“During the period between the 2019 general election and 12th December 2022, the Commission suffered over 50 attacks on its buildings and facilities in various LGAs and State Offices across 15 States of the federation in which vehicles, office equipment and election materials were destroyed.
“Furthermore, currency swap by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the limit placed on cash withdrawals from banks constituted encumbrances on the Commission’s operations for the payment to some unbanked service providers and the ability of particularly transport providers to service and fuel vehicles, boats and motorcycles in readiness for Election Duty.
“The prevailing fuel scarcity across the country and inadequate numbers of vehicles and boats for the transportation of election personnel and materials within the required timeframe posed a great challenge to the logistics plan for the election.

“This is more so considering the size and diversity of Nigeria, as well the state of national infrastructure. Indeed, election is the largest and most complex logistics undertaking in Nigeria involving the simultaneous movement of personnel and material to 176,846 polling units across 8,809 wards spread across 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in 36 states and FCT.”

The commission said the poll was unique in terms of keeping to the timetable, new 80 clauses in the Electoral Act and introduction of new technologies which made voting easier.

The report added: “The 2023 general election is perhaps the best planned and most innovative election in Nigeria.

“The election witnessed  the highest number of eligible voters and voting locations across the country with the participation of over one million election duty officials and deployment of enormous logistic requirements including

over 100,000 vehicles and about 4,000 boats protected by gunboats.

“Given the meticulous preparations for the election, the transparency of the entire electoral process, from the casting of the vote, the publication of the number of collected Permanent Voters Card for the election down to the polling unit level for the first time ever, the presence of security

personnel, party agents, election observers and the media along the entire voting process and result collation chain, as well as the layers of stringent checks and control put in place by the Commission before making a declaration and return for an

election, the outcome of the election, based on immutable provisions in the electoral legal framework is a true reflection of the wishes of the electorate.”

It noted that the, “National Assembly election, for the first time in two Electoral Cycles 2010-2015 and 2015-2019, held on schedule without postponement as a result of logistics or other challenges.

“Moreover, voter access to polling units was expanded countrywide after 25 years when in June 2021 the Commission converted the 56,872 Voting Points and Voting Point Settlements into full-fledged Polling Units, bringing the number of polling units in Nigeria to 176,846.

“In addition to expanding voter access to polling units, the Commission also relocated 749 polling units from inappropriate to more appropriate public facilities or open spaces to guarantee unencumbered access for all voters. Sequel to the foregoing, there was voter migration and inadvertently, de-congestion of some over-crowded polling units. This exercise is on-going as some polling units are still congested as a result of voter reluctance to relocate mainly for security consideration

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