In order to ensure that the schedule for holding the general election in 2023 is rigorously followed, President Muhammadu Buhari has given the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) instructions that no changes to the dates would be accepted.
The Governorship and State Assembly elections will take place on Saturday, March 11, 2023, according to the schedule provided by INEC last year. The Presidential and National Assembly elections will take place on Saturday, February 25, 2023.
However, there were rumors last week that because of logistical problems, the election board would move the polls back by at least two weeks.
Among these difficulties, the ongoing burning of INEC offices nationwide, the security issues in the South-East, and North-East.
Additionally, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of INEC, had expressed concern over the nation’s ongoing fuel crisis last week, stressing that the shortage would hinder the transit of poll supplies and election personnel.
Even while it is anticipated that the ongoing naira shortage would be resolved prior to the elections, there are concerns that it may still have a detrimental impact.
While the electoral body is committed to keeping the set date, a top commission official told Daily Independent that current events in the nation may force it to announce an extension.
“The commission is doing all it can to stick to the announced dates but given the numerous challenges being witnessed across the country, such as burning of our offices, insecurity challenges and attack on INEC officials, lingering fuel scarcity coupled with problems arising from the naira redesign, I won’t be surprised if the election is postponed by two weeks minimum.”
However, the Commissioner for Information and Voter Education of INEC, Festus Okoye, denied any plans of extension, saying the dates fixed for the conduct of the elections remain firm.
“The dates fixed by the commission for the conduct of the 2023 general election are fixed and firm”, he said.
Also affirming Okoye’s position, Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, said there are no plans to shift the elections.
“Not at all. The commission is not even contemplating shifting the 2023 general election”.
A senior presidential aide told Daily Independent on Sunday, on condition of anonymity, that President Muhammadu Buhari has given INEC specific orders to ensure that the scheduled dates are fully observed.
“I don’t think the fears of whether the election dates will be shifted is justified. The president has given clear instructions to INEC to ensure that the dates announced for the election are strictly adhered to. Also, the commission has said it for the umpteenth time that the dates remain sacrosanct. So right now, we are confident that the presidential election will hold as scheduled on February 25.
“The only issue INEC raised which is very legitimate is the issue of fuel scarcity which they said may affect logistics and I think that has been settled as INEC itself had said it will not rely on the fuel supplied by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited for the movement of its personnel and materials ahead of the general elections”.