2023: Violence major challenge to credible polls – INEC

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The Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) Wednesday said violence could affect the credibility of elections, especially if the attacks were targeted at its facilities. 

INEC National Commissioner Mrs. May Agbamuche said this at a one- day public hearing held by the National Assembly joint committee on INEC and Electoral Matters.

Addressing the gathering, Agbamuche said: “With the General Election at hand, it is important to remind you all of the Commission’s commitment to free, fair and credible elections. 

“Our preparation is however fraught with challenges. There is no doubt that violence and threat of violence are major challenges to credible election in 2023. 

“Violence makes deployment for elections difficult, particularly where some of the attacks are targeted at INEC facilities, the electoral process and participants. 

“However, the Commission has been working with security agencies and other stakeholders to establish mechanisms to understand, track and mitigate security challenges. 

 “We are working collaboratively in the context of Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES). 

“In all, we feel assured by the actions we have taken and our collaboration with the security agencies. 

“The 2023 General Election will proceed as planned. There is no plan to postpone the election.”

NASS

Also at the forum, the National Assembly said the most  potent threat to the forthcoming 2023 general elections remains the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through its  badly implemented Naira redesign policy.

Speaking at the event, a member of the committee, Senator  Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central) said going by the problem of acute Naira scarcity being faced by Nigerians,  the CBN  is the most outstanding threat to the elections.

He said the plan of selectivity of cash withdrawal INEC worked out with the CBN Tuesday, was not assuring as far as smooth conduct of the elections was concerned. 

He said: “The CBN told us at the beginning of the policy that the targets were the so-called moneybags who stashed away billions in their closets. We thought those at the people they want to get at.

“We are  now seeing that it is the ordinary man on the streets suffering . They are sleeping in the banking hall because they cannot have access to the little money they have. We must understand the political economy of an electoral process.

“People are thinking of the money politicians would spend on vote-buying, they don’t know that political parties would also mobilise people to all the polling units as agents, just like the INEC would mobilise personnel also.

“Today, the CBN is assuring Nigerians that it would provide money for INEC if they need more money.

“Are we saying that INEC must rely on the intervention of the CBN for it to perform? If the police run into logistics problems, they would also run to CBN for selective intervention.

“We are fighting Boko Haram, so if the military authorities could not access funds from their banks, they will also need to approach the CBN for selective intervention.

“These are issues and as a stakeholder, the CBN is the most outstanding threat to these elections holding as scheduled.

“The INEC should do its best. When the political class appears to have held the nation to ransom as it appears now, it is the judiciary that will have to stand up and save the nation from the jugular of the political class.

“There is definitely, a cabal that does not want this election to hold but let us remind them those who call themselves the cabal, under President Olusegun Obasanjo they became irrelevant after that. Ditto for those who constituted themselves as cabal under late President Umaru Yar’Adua and President Goodluck Jonathan.

“The current situation shall also pass. The nation is at a crossroad and all stakeholders must stand up in defence of our democracy.”