2023: We Are Ready for Free, Fair and Transparent Election – Okoye

The INEC National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, has restated the preparedness of the Commission towards a free, fair and transparent election starting from Saturday, February 25th, 2023.

Addressing newsmen in Umuahia, Okoye, said the Commission is ready for the election having done test run to ascertain the workability of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), revealing that the BVAS have been configured and ready for effective performance on the day of the election.

According to him, BVAS will be deployed in all the 176,606 minus 240 polling units across the country just as it will deploy the BVAS in 8, 809 registration areas as redundancies, noting that this deployment is aimed at having hitch-free general elections.

Okoye told the press that they have the full compliment of the sensitive materials (result sheets, ballot boxes, etc) for the election stored in all the CBN offices nationwide while most of the non-sensitive materials have been deployed to every Local Government Area across the federation, adding that they have completed the training of Supervising Officers and about commencing the next batch of training for Presiding Officers(POs) and Assistant Presiding Officers (APOs), insisting that the Commission is ready.

He said he has interfaced with the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Abia State, and they have gone far in terms of preparation just as is the case in Anambra State.

On the new naira re-design policy of the CBN and how it will affect the election, Okoye said based on the meeting the Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu held with the CBN and other collaborators where the Commission was given assurances of adequate cash to take care of logistics for the election, the Commission is not entertaining any fear in that line.

On the non existing 240 polling units, Okoye gave reasons why the Commission moved those polling units, pointing out they were located in areas that are not accessible to pregnant women, persons with disability among others, stating also that during the Continuous Voter Registration Exercise, people were urged to choose these polling units but they did not.

He said those polling units are still in existence but informed that results from the areas will not be uploaded.

Okoye charged Nigerians to always have confidence in the electoral process as well as have confidence in the governance of the country, stressing that the BVAS will be the game changer, ultimate arbiter of the 2023 election, saying that the BVAS ensures that the person who comes to the polling unit is a legally registered voter, authenticates the finger or facials of the individuals.

He urged electorates and political actors to desist from cutting corners during elections by way of vote buying, arguing that the BVAS do not dictate political actors who woo the electorates through inducements.

Okoye charged political parties to rely on Section 43, sub section 1 of the new Electoral Act and deploy their party agents to polling units , informing that before election starts, the INEC Officer in charge should announce materials in his custody for the election. He enjoined people to desist from rumour-mongering, fake news, as these are the biggest threat to the conduct of free, fair and transparent election.

He said the election can only be determined by Nigerians, as INEC has no candidate in the election, political party, stating that the Commission belongs to the Nigerian people and a commission held in public trust.

Concerning observers in the forthcoming election including Journalists, Okoye said the Commission will issue every observer the Commission’s identity, bearing a particular number, including accreditation tag to Journalists, informing that the security agencies have been trained on election duties, assuring that they will be civil in their approach and handling of observers for the election.

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