The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has acknowledged that the 2023 general election faced some structural, infrastructural, and human challenges. Despite this, the Commission believed that it was one of the most meticulously prepared for elections in recent times, learning from previous experiences and planning over a four-year period.
Various opinions have been expressed by political parties, candidates, observers, analysts, and the general public regarding the election. INEC welcomed these diverse opinions as long as they aimed to improve future elections and consolidate democracy.
The Commission consciously refrained from immediate commentaries, opting to listen, learn, and conduct its own review of the election process. Some issues around the election are sub-judice, and the Commission avoided any actions that might be seen as prejudicing the legal process.
Notwithstanding security, currency swap, and fuel challenges, as well as attacks on INEC personnel and facilities, the elections were largely peaceful. The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for voter accreditation had a 98% success rate compared to the Smart Card Reader’s 29.2% in the 2019 General Election.
The election reflected the complexity of a multi-party democracy, with multiple political parties winning seats at various levels of government, signaling a shift from single-party dominance. The 10th National Assembly was the most diverse in party representation since 1999.
However, there were challenges in the election process, including structural, infrastructural, and human factors, which INEC is committed to addressing in its post-election review engagements.
The Commission is also actively investigating electoral offenses and collaborating with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to prosecute alleged offenders. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC) are also involved in prosecuting cases related to vote buying and associated violations.
In the coming weeks, internal debriefing meetings and engagements with stakeholders will take place to gather feedback and insights. The discussions will cover various aspects of the election, including operational processes, the legal framework, deployed technologies, administrative procedures, political party registration, and primaries, ad-hoc staff recruitment and training, and strengthening cooperation with other bodies.
Following the review and stakeholder engagements, INEC plans to publish a comprehensive report, including reviews from accredited national and international observers.
Despite the ongoing review, INEC faces additional challenges with upcoming by-elections and off-cycle Governorship elections in several states.
The INEC chairman commended the Resident Electoral Commissioners for their performance during the general election but urged them to remain loyal to their oath of office.