The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is already making plans to conduct a run-off presidential election, where no candidate meets the conditional requirements for declaring a winner from votes cast on February 25, 2023.
Eighteen candidates will be on the ballot for next year’s polls though three; Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and surprise challenger, Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) are considered frontrunners in the election.
Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, on Friday in Abuja, gave the hint at a meeting with Bureau Chiefs/Editors of media organisations, clarifying that such a plan had been the tradition of INEC for all elections conducted by the commission since the return of democracy in 1999.
He said that INEC was already planning to print double of the total number of ballot papers required for the first ballot, should there be a need for a rerun election.
The spokesman explained that the preparations were always made because the commission has just 21 days to conduct the rerun or run-off election.
Mr Okoye said that before a candidate could be declared winner of the presidential election, he or she must have the highest number of votes cast and secure a quarter of the votes cast in two-thirds of the states of the federation and the FCT.
He said where the threshold is not met by any candidate, the constitution stated that a second election should be conducted for two of the candidates with highest and majority votes in line with the provisions of the law.
According to Section 134 subsection 2 of the Nigerian Constitution, a candidate must secure the highest number of votes cast at the election, in addition to securing a quarter of the votes cast in two-thirds of all the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
Mr Okoye also explained that: “If no candidate emerges on the first ballot, only two candidates are going to be on the second ballot or only two candidates are going to contest the second election.
“Who are those candidates that will be on the ballot for the second election?
“The Constitution has made it very clear that two candidates that will be on the ballot are; the one that scored the highest number of votes at the election.
“The second candidate that will be on the ballot will be one amongst the remaining candidates who have the majority of votes in the highest number of states.”
He emphasised that: “The Constitution did not say that the person who came second will be the person who will be on the ballot. That’s not what Constitution says.”
Mr Okoye said that due to the number of ballot papers, over 90 million required for the election and the number of days to conduct the second election, INEC would always print the paper along with those for the first poll.
“If 93 million ballot papers are required for the presidential election, INEC will print 186 million ballot papers just to be ready for a possible second presidential election.
“This is because the law gives the commission just 21 days within which to engage in reverse logistics and conduct a run-off election in case there’s no winner.”
On how INEC would determine the two candidates to be on the second ballot since it was printing the ballot papers along the first, Mr Okoye said that in order to meet up with the timeline, the commission would still print for all the political parties that participate in the first ballot.
He said it was the responsibility of the political parties to sensitise the voters on who they should vote for between the two candidates that meet the requirements for second election.
He said any vote cast for all other candidates expected not to be on the second ballot would be counted as void votes.
Mr Okoye also said that all sensitive materials for the 2023 general elections would be kept with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), except the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
“We have classified the BVAS as a sensitive material and we have engaged with different security agencies to provide security for the BVAS because the BVAS will be in the custody of the commission.
“So, we have adopted a hybrid approach as the BVAS will remain with the commission while the ballot papers will be in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“This was the agreement we had with political parties, security agencies, Civil Society Organisations and media.”
In her presentation, the INEC Director of Legal Drafting Department, Oluwatoyin Babalola, said INEC would continue to evolve and improve on the electoral process vis-à-vis international best practices and electoral legal framework in its quest for credible elections.
Mrs Babalola described the Electoral Act 2022 as a laudable effort to bring the Nigerian electoral process up to standard with countries all over the world, and meet the aspirations of Nigerians.
“It is believed that the provisions of the Act will guarantee the delivery of free, fair, transparent and credible elections which will in turn increase the acceptance of the electoral processes and outcomes in the 2023 general election and beyond.”
2023: May 29 Handover Sacrosant – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari, Monday reiterated his commitment to handing over leadership to an elected president on May 29 next year, saying that his term in office will end on that day in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In a brief remark tothe Minister of National Education, Pre-School and Sports of the Kingdom of Morocco Mr. Shakib Ben Musa, who visited the State House as Special Envoy of King Mohammed the VI, President Buhari said his term of office will end with the inauguration of a new president in May next year.
He, however, said that he will study the message sent and respond accordingly, giving assurances at the same time that he will continue to cherish and strengthen the very warm and cordial relations between the two countries.
Accompanied by the resident representative of the Kingdom in Nigeria, Mr. Moha Ou Ali Tagma, the Special Envoy reiterated to the President the friendship and solidarity of the King, the government and people of Morocco with Nigeria.
NNPP Blasts Tinubu Over Absence At Town Hall Meeting
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, has taken a swipe at the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for refusing to honour invitations on debate, saying that it was an indication that he has nothing to tell Nigerians or he does not have the power to rule the country.
Addressing journalists on Monday in Abuja, the NNPP National Chairman, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali said that the APC Presidential candidate should endeavor to appear for Nigerians to hear him and his blueprint for the country, asking him to come for debates and say something, even if it may not be clear.
According to him, the media should interrogate all the presidential candidates as we inch closer to the 2023 Presidential election, adding, that “the NNPP would continue to engage patriotic individuals and organisations that share our vision and mission to rescue Nigeria and save democracy in the country. For the avoidance of doubt, our Party, the New Nigeria Peoples Party will not in any way be coerced or blackmailed to fulfill somebody’s inordinate ambition to rule Nigeria by all means.”
Recall that the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar; the NNPP candidate, Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso and that of Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi had featured on Sunday night at a town hall meeting organised by Arise TV, Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, in partnership with Vanguard Newspapers, Premium Times, Daily Trust, Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, and Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, in Abuja, where Tinubu was conspicuously absent again.
According to him, the NNPP as the Third Force has finally arrived against the backdrop that Nigerians were tired of excuses and the culture of blame games by the APC, adding, “like what happened yesterday, the 4th of Dec 2022. Apart from Arise TV, the CDD, highly respectable organisation and virtually all the media organisation in the country, so this is an open forum. It’s very clear. So why can’t you go and talk, say something, even if it’s not clear, people will get something out of you but you preferred to jet out of the country.
“So this is a different issue. This is not the first time, not the second time, it has been like that. You can assume that most of them do not have the power to rule the country. Two, they are also ashamed of what they have done. You can’t call yourself the leader of a party for eight years and now you want to rule the country, you cannot come and tell Nigerians what you have done during the eight years. You are the leader of the party because, you have, for the first time, in the history of the country, a President is different, and the leader of the party different.
“Now the person who is invited is the person who is the leader of the party, come forward, you say no, he is out of the country. So people are waiting for him, if he doesn’t come for debate, he will come for election.”
Police Arrest Four Over Attempt On Senator’s Life
The Niger State Police Command, on Monday, said that additional facts had emerged following the arrest of four suspects in Minna, the State capital, over the failed assassination attempt on the Chairman, Senate Services Committee, Senator Sani Musa, All Progressives Congress, APC, Niger East.
In a statement, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP Wasiu Abiodun, on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, Niger State Command, explained that one of the suspects confessed further that the hoodlums led by the said Sherrif, presently at large, trailed the Senator to his home in Minna.
Recall that Senator Sani Musa on Saturday narrowly escaped assassination by unknown gunmen in his Minna residence, and four suspects were immediately arrested in connection with the incident.
It was gathered that the incident happened on Saturday night, just as the suspected assailants were said to have trailed the Senator, who is seeking his second term into the Senate in 2023, from Abuja to his residence along the popular Old Alheri Clinic Road, Tunga area in Minna.
Unknown to the assailants, Senator Musa had returned to Abuja in the afternoon before they invaded the house in the night.
DSP Wasiu Abiodun said, “Reference to the Commands’ earlier press release on the unfortunate invasion of Senator Sani Musa residence, Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District.
“Niger State Police Command wishes to state that additional facts emerged in the course of investigation, as one of the suspects confessed further that the hoodlums led by the said Sherrif, presently at large targeted the Senator to his home in Minna.
“The hoodlums suspected that he could be at home, having attended a coronation ceremony at Kagara on the same date and to possibly kidnap him.
“Fortunately, the gang met his absence, broke into the house and ransacked the residence in the pretence of the purported search execution in the residence.
“However, investigation is in progress, as effort is on top gear to apprehend other members of the gang and further development will be made public.”
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