Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, assured Nigerians at the 17th edition of President Muhammadu Buhari’s scorecard series from 2015-2023 in Abuja that the general election will hold as scheduled Next month.
The minister said this when the chairman of board of The Electoral Institute TEI, INEC’s training arm, Professor Abdullahi Abdu Zuru, who represented INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, at the validation of election security training resources, in Abuja, said on Monday that the election might be postponed if security is not monitored and dealt with in all constituency as it can hinder declaration of elections result and precipitate a constitutional crisis.
The minister said: “Let me use this opportunity to respond to inquiries from the media over a widely-circulated report, credited to an INEC official, that the 2023 general elections face a serious threat of cancellation due to insecurity.
“The position of the Federal Government remains that the 2023 elections will be held as planned. Nothing has happened to change that position. We are aware that INEC is working wth security agencies to ensure that the elections are successfully held across the country.
“The security agencies have also continued to assure Nigerians that they are working tirelessly to ensure that the elections are held in a peaceful atmosphere. Therefore, there is no cause for alarm.”
However, some members of the house of representative have described INEC’S statement as irresponsible.
The members who spoke were Sergius Ogun (Esan North East/Esan South East Federal constituency of Edo State) and Kingsley Chinda (Obior/Akpor federal constituency of Rivers State).
“Consequently, in preparations for the 2023 general elections, the Commission is not leaving anything to chance in ensuring that intensive and extensive security is provided for election personnel, materials and processes.
Ogun in his statement accused INEC of diverting attention due to its inability to conduct the collection of the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) with the statement, counselling the electoral umpire to table its security concerns before the Federal Government.
He said: “They should come out and tell us what they know that the rest of us don’t know. It’s very irresponsible of INEC to be making statements like this at a time they should be working towards delivering credible polls in February and March. INEC might be trying to deflect attention from their inability to properly handle the collection of PVCs as there are complaints by Nigerians who registered and are not able to collect their PVCs as the expiration date for collection is just a couple of weeks away, if they have any serious security concerns, they should take it to the government.
“Let the government tell Nigerians that they have failed to provide security for all hence the election might not hold. It’s not the responsibility of INEC to provide security for its staff, election materials and citizens (voters) but for the government. Section 14.2(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) provides that ‘The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.’”
Similarly, Chinda said INEC couldn’t have made such a statement having had ample time to prepare for the elections.
“I doubt the statement is from INEC. If it is, I would say that it amounts to rascality and irresponsibility for INEC to say so, having had time to prepare for the election”, he said.