The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has shifted the 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections from February 18 to February 25, 2023, following the signing of the new Electoral Act.
The Commission equally fixed the governorship and state assembly elections for March 11, 2023, announcing the conduct of party primaries, including the resolution of disputes arising from them between Monday, April 4, to Friday, June 3.
Speaking during a media conference in Abuja on Saturday, Commission’s Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said that the fresh timetable and schedule of activities has become very necessary.
Consequently, the Commission has decided to adjust the dates of the 2023 General Election to ensure compliance with the provisions of the new law. Accordingly, the Presidential and National Assembly elections will now hold on Saturday, February 25, 2023, while the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections will hold two weeks later on Saturday, March 11, 2023.
‘With this adjustment, the 2023 General Election is now 363 days away. Under the law, there are critical timebound activities from the publication of Notice of Election to the Conduct of Polls which form the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for elections.
‘Some of the critical activities and their dates of implementation are as follows: Publication of Notice of Election, Monday, February 28, 2022. Conduct of party primaries, including the resolution of disputes arising from them, Monday 4th April 2022 to Friday 3rd June 2022.
‘Submission of nomination forms to INEC via the online portal for Presidential and National Assembly election – 9:00 am on Friday, June 10, 2022, to 6:00 pm on Friday, June 17, 2022.
‘Submission of nomination forms to INEC via the online nomination portal for Governorship and State Assembly elections – 9:00 am on Friday, July 1, 2022, to 6:00 pm on Friday, July 15, 2022. Commencement of campaign by political parties for Presidential and National Assembly election, Wednesday, September 28, 2022.
‘Commencement of Campaign by political parties for Governorship and State Assembly elections, Wednesday, October 12, 2022. Last day of the campaign by political parties for Presidential and National Assembly elections, midnight on Thursday, February 23, 2023.
‘Last day of campaign by political parties for Governorship and State Assembly elections – midnight on Thursday, March 9, 2023,’ he said.
Fielding questions from newsmen during the media parley, the Commission’s Chairman sounded a note of warning to the political parties and the aspirants for the 2023 elections to discontinue the campaign violating the stipulations for Electoral Act.
Asked whether INEC will sanction erring parties and candidates campaigning well ahead of the stipulated date he said: “This is not just a matter for the Electoral Act, but also a constitutional provision that there is time frame for commencement of campaign which is 150 days to the election and there is also a period for the end of campaigns which is 24 hours to the election.
‘So, let me seek this opportunity to draw the attention of parties and candidates that the law makes specific definite provisions for the commencement of campaigns and the end of campaigns and all Nigerians are required to adhere to the provisions of the law including political parties and candidates.
‘What we will do very quickly is to hold a meeting with all the political parties in Nigeria and discussed not only this issue of the campaign but all other issues that require the attendance of political parties as provided for in the Electoral Act 2022,’ he responded.
On the malfunctioning cases of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), he said: ‘I hope you are following what is happening in the four states in the six Constituencies as we speak and that is my best response to what INEC has done by responding to the glitches with the BVAS in some elections.
‘We have issues in the FCT Area Councils election but what is happening right now as we speak in four States of the federation, where there are no glitches in Cross River, Imo, Plateau, Ondo States. We learnt from the experience of previous elections and we have improved on the functionality of the BVAS. There are no challenges with the BVAS,’ he assured.