By Taoreed Abdullahi
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is to engage one point four millon adhoc staff in more than eight thousand eight hundred wards for next year’s general elections.
The Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahamud Yakubu made this known at an interactive session with members of the Nigerian Guild of Editors in Lagos.
Professor Yakubu, who noted that the conduct of elections in Nigeria was more cumbersome than that of other countries in West African, assured Nigerians that the commission would conduct a free, fair and credible elections next year.
The INEC Chairman estimatedt the cost of next year’s elections at N305 billion naira out of the national budget of over N17 trillion, adding that the amount was less than1.8 percent of the budget.
“I am sure as we continue to build trust and confidence in the process, the cost of elections will come down considerably,” he said
He announced that the commission has introduced a technology that would make multiple voting and rigging as well as other form of electoral malpractice difficult in the conduct of elections in the country.
Professor Yakubu said the commission would soon publish the list of candidates that would participate in next year election, as the commission was using technology to clean up the voters register ahead of the exercise.
He further explained that the commission would make distribution of Permanent Voters’ Cards seamless as the commission would adopt all means of communication to ensure that everyone who registered get their cards so as to participate in the election.
“For the 2023 general election, preparation has been made for 95 million voters. We already have 84 million registered voters , we have also registered additional 12million voters who are yet to be added to the register, as we are doing a cleaning up. So, when we heard a few days ago that there were some fictitious names on the register, we were surprised where such misleading information was coming from,” the Inec boss said.
In his remark, the President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mr. Mustapha Isah urged the National Assembly to expedite action on the passage of the Bill setting up the Electoral Offences Tribunal to bring perpetrators of electoral malpractice and other electoral offences to justice.
He said the Guild was ready to partner credible organisations to put pressure on the National Assembly to pass this all- important bill before the 2023 elections.
Speaking on the negative effects of vote-buying during elections, Mr. Isah described the act as a manifestation of poverty in the land.
He explained that politicians now engage in vote buying because INEC has introduced a technology to check electoral malpractice as demonstrated in the Ekiti and Osun State Governorship election.
Mr. Mustapha appealed to INEC to put in place effective measures to protect its saver from being hacked.
The president of the Guild explained that the forum was organised to provide the election umpire the opportunity to address editors on its preparations for the 2023 general elections.
“Editors will also use this forum to seek clarifications on different issues and ask critical questions on matters relating to the elections, in line with our resolve to bring the right information to the electorate ahead of the elections”, he said.
The forum was attended by Media Executives and members of the Guild of Editors from various media organisations across the country.