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INEC to commence legal reforms ahead 2023 polls, Mahmood assures

Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission. Kola Sulaimon / AFP

• EU Recommendations On 2019 Elections Would Form Benchmarks
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has said steps were already being taken to reform the country’s electoral process ahead of the 2023 polls.

He noted that recommendations to be provided by the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU-EOM) in this year’s general elections would form major inputs in the areas of reform to be submitted to the recently inaugurated 9th National Assembly soon.

Yakubu, who gave this indication in Abuja, yesterday, at a meeting with the Chief Observer of the EU-EOM, Maria Arena, stated that the 30 observations and recommendations provided by the mission in 2015 were instrumental in improving Nigeria’s electoral processes, including consolidating the country’s democratic system since 1999.

Specifically, the INEC chairman pointed out that the recommendation that INEC should merge the accreditation and voting processes on election day, a system that was test-ran during the Bayelsa State governorship election of December 2015, remains invaluable till date, saying the implementation of some of the other recommendations went a long way in enhancing our organisational and operational planning and strengthening our engagement with stakeholders.

He also commended the EU for its interest in Nigeria’s democratic processes, especially for the deployment of 91 observers to 261 polling units and 94 collation centres in 31 states of the federation during the last Presidential and National Assembly elections, as well as its deployment of 73 observers to 223 polling units and 81 collation centres in 22 states for the Governorship, State Assembly and FCT Area Council elections.

“Every election in any democracy around the world is work-in-progress. We, therefore, look forward to the full EU-EOM report and recommendations on the elections. We are confident that there will be useful lessons for the Commission as we prepare for future elections. “Indeed, the report is coming at the right time, as it will feed into our ongoing review of the conduct of the elections.

“Let me assure you that the Commission will again quickly focus attention on the electoral legal framework, in addition to several other areas of reform. We will study in detail, all your recommendations as part of our ongoing internal review of this year’s general elections, which we hope to conclude in the next two months.
“Immediately, thereafter, we shall engage with the leadership of the 9th National Assembly on areas that require legislation, while implementing aspects of the reform within the powers of the Commission in full consultation with stakeholders. There is so much work to do, but little time ahead of us.

“The EU has been part of Nigeria’s steady progress towards democratic consolidation since 1999. The observations and recommendations of the EU-EOM to the 2015 general elections were particularly useful not only in the design of some important proposals for reforming the electoral legal framework, but also in improving our electoral processes and procedures.”

Earlier, Arena told the INEC boss that most of the recommendations in the report were addressed to INEC with a view to improving Nigeria’s electoral processes. She commended Nigerians for their commitment and conduct during the elections, thereby ensuring that the country’s democracy was preserved

“Our last visit here is meant to give stakeholders the final report on the general elections written by us as observation mission. The recommendation is on how INEC will improve the electoral process and democracy in Nigeria. We know that Nigeria deserves democracy and their resolve to maintain democracy was seen during the elections.”

“We will see that a lot of the recommendation are addressed to INEC. Some are also addressed to the government, parliament and the civil society organisations,” she stated. Meanwhile, the EU-EOM would officially release the report and recommendations arising from the general elections today in Abuja.

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