**As NASS fingers CBN as the new threat to 2023 polls

Bearly two weeks to the 2023 presidential/National Assembly elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has raised serious concern over violent attacks on its facilities which it said is major challenge to the successful conduct of the polls.Speaking through INEC National Commissioner, May Agbamuche, the Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, gave the indication at a one-day special public hearing on “The Extent of Implementation Of The Electoral Act, 2022 Ahead Of The Conduct Of The 2023 General Election.”

Yakubu said violence could affect the credibility of the elections especially if the attacks were targeted at INEC facilities.

He 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.

“Towards the 2023 General Election, the Commission has been joined in over 1000 Court cases as at Friday 6th January 2023 involving intra-party elections and nomination of candidates by political parties.

“Having concluded 12 out of 14 of the activities in timetable and schedule of activities for the General Election, the Commission is fully committed to the successful conduct of free, fair and credible elections.”

On its part, the National Assembly has indicated that the current naira redesign policy could affect the conduct of the forthcoming polls negatively.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, who is also a member of the Joint National Assembly Committee on Electoral Matter, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, stated this at the public hearing.

Bamidele 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 have now seeing that it is the ordinary man on the streets. They are sleeping in the banking halls 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 of 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 it’s best. When the political class appear to have hold the nation to ransom as it appear 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 those who constituted themselves as cabal under late president Umaru Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan.

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

Also in his contribution, the Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Mr. Samson Itodo urged INEC to reconsider it’s stand on the three million students who could be disenfranchised in the forthcoming polls.

Itodo in his submission at the public hearing, disagreed with the position of INEC that it could not help the situation.

Rather, he said the electoral umpire could appeal to the various tertiary institutions which had slated their examinations for the period of the election to cancel such arrangement.

He said, ” The House of Representatives in its wisdom had passed a resolution calling on those tertiary institutions and the INEC to allow the students return home where they had registered and participate in the electoral process. “

In his reaction, the Chairman, Senate Committee on the INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya, appealed to the INEC management and the authorities of the affected institutions to respect the rights of the students by cancelling any examination slated for the election periods.

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