INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu Shakes The Entire Osun State, Delivers The Best Message Ever, Today

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has stated that voters will not be allowed to go inside polling booths with their telephones, cameras, and any other devices that can record images.

He revealed this on Monday, in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, at the Stakeholders Forum, organised ahead of Saturday’s Governorship election in the State.

The INEC Chairman, noted that this would help to curb the issue of vote-buying and vote-selling, which he described as a new strategy adopted by Politicians to rig elections.

He states that voters would not be barred from using their devices at the polling units, but would not be allowed to hold their cameras and telephones from the moment they are issued with ballot papers, until they cast their marked ballots inside the ballot boxes.

INEC reply PDP, says no plan to postpone 2019 elections

There are no plans to postpone the 2019 general elections as insinuated by the PDP in some quarters, INEC has said. In apparent reaction to a report in one of the national dailies said that the newspaper’s headline “We May Shift 2019 Polls Over Threat Of Violence – INEC”  did not reflect correctly the statement of INEC boss, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu at the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Security (ICCES) meeting.

In a statement signed by Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to INEC chairman the commission claimed that at no point during his remarks did the INEC Chairman allude to the notion that the Commission “may shift 2019 polls over threat of violence” as reported by the national newspaper.

The statement reads: “Our attention has been drawn to a story with the headline – We May Shift 2019 Polls Over Threat Of Violence – INEC – which appeared on the front page of a national newspapers today, but which did not correctly reflect what the Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said at the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) meeting that took place at the Commission’s headquarters on 11th September 2018.

“It is common knowledge that the Osun State governorship election will hold on Saturday 22nd September, while the 2019 General Elections are only 156 days away.

“The ICCES meeting, which takes place on a regular, quarterly basis, provides an opportunity for INEC and security agencies to evaluate and discuss the country’s security situation, with the aim of putting the necessary measures in place to enable the Commission carry out its mandate.

“In his remarks at the meeting, the INEC Chairman told the security chiefs that with the 2019 general elections drawing close, the Committee would need to meet more frequently to constantly assess the security situation across the country and take proactive actions to forestall any unpleasant event before, during and immediately after the elections.

“He underscored the fact that elections cannot be conducted under a rancorous atmosphere. He referred to Section 26 of the Electoral Act which, among others, gives the Commission the power to postpone an election “if there is reason to believe that a serious breach of peace is likely to occur if the election is proceeded with on (the fixed date)”, or as a result of natural disasters or other emergencies.

“Prof. Yakubu made this reference to the Electoral Act only to underscore the importance of having peace and order in place before, during and after elections and to emphasize the significance of the synergy between the Commission and security agencies.

“He also noted that the most important assignment before the Commission was the Osun governorship election, adding the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Osun State, Mr. Segun Agbaje and Commissioner of Police for Osun state, Mr. Fimihan Adeoye would brief the Committee on the current situation and state of readiness for the governorship poll. (Both Agbaje and Adeoye later briefed the audience).

“Besides, he spoke on the rising phenomenon of vote buying and selling and harped on the need for collaborative effort to decisively tackle the menace and prevent it during the Osun governorship election. He said a Code of Conduct for security agents would be enforced during the elections and warned that any activity outside the confines of legality/ legitimacy will be viewed seriously.

“The INEC Chairman also seized the opportunity to draw the Committee’s attention to a video clip making the rounds, in which some political actors were seen making inciteful statements that could lead to serious security breaches before, during and after the 2019 general elections. He called on the relevant security agencies to be vigilant, just as he urged them to take immediate action on the development. He commended members of the Committee for their cooperation, which makes it possible for INEC to conduct credible elections. It is thus clear that at no point during his remarks did the INEC Chairman allude to the notion that the Commission “may shift 2019 polls over threat of violence” as reported by the national newspaper. To be sure, INEC has no plan to postpone the 2019 General Elections.”

INEC replies PDP govs on 2019 elections

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has said it is committed to conducting a free, fair and credible general elections come 2019.

The electoral body was responding to a vote of no confidence passed on its ability to conduct credible elections by the governors forum of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The PDP governors forum, had at the end of its meeting on Monday, said it does not have confidence in the current INEC leadership, while also accusing the security agencies of colluding with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) against opposition political parties in the country.

“INEC needs to reinvent itself as a truly independent umpire of the electoral process in the country. For now, we have no confidence in INEC. The commission has conducted itself as a tool of the APC-led federal government, especially with the roles of the Chairman, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, and a National Commissioner, Mrs. Amina Zakari”, the governors said.

However, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, in a statement, said since the inauguration of the current leadership of the Commission in November 2015, it has been putting various measures in place to improve and strengthen the Electoral Process.

“And in doing so, the Commission has also carried all stakeholders along. Not only that, by putting all cards on the table at all times, INEC has continually demonstrated integrity, transparency and efficiency.

“The efforts are paying off. Only on August 31, the Commission brought the Continuous Voter Registration CVR to a close after registering a record 14.5million voters in 16 months.

“The Commission has also conducted about 190 different types of elections, including Six governorship elections, none of which has been overturned. From the feedback we are getting from Nigerians, they are appreciative of our efforts and our pledge is that we will deliver a free, fair and credible 2019 General Elections”.

2019: INEC to print 16.5m PVCs before general elections

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will print 16,500,192 Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and make them available for collection by citizens ahead of the 2019 general elections.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this at the regular meeting of the commission with the Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) on Thursday in Abuja.

Yakubu said that for a period of 16 months, from April 27, 2017 to Aug. 31, it registered a total of 14,551,482 new voters for its nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).

He said if the figure was added to the existing register of 69,720,350 voters, it meant that the nation now had a voter population of 84,271,832.

He explained that the figure might drop slightly after the commission must have run  the Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS).

“In addition to fresh registration, the Commission is also processing 769,917 requests for intra and inter-State transfers as well as 1,178,793 requests for replacement of lost, damaged or cards with misspelt names or incorrect personal details of voters as required by law.

“This means that the Commission has to print a total of 16,500,192 PVCs and make them available for collection by citizens ahead of the 2019 general elections.

“Already, the Commission has printed the PVCs for those registered in 2017 and delivered them to states for collection.

“I can also confirm that the PVCs for 2.7 million voters registered in the first quarter of 2018 have been printed and will be delivered to the states next week.

“We wish to reassure Nigerians that every registered voter will have his/her PVC available for collection before the general election.

“The collection of PVCs will continue until one week to the 2019 general elections. We shall ensure that the process of collection is simplified with minimum inconvenience to citizens.

“We will also ensure that information about the collection of PVCs is widely disseminated.

“Already, we are partnering with telecommunication companies to send bulk text (sms) messages to citizens for the collection of their PVCs’’.

He added that after running the AFIS, the Commission would present a detailed analysis of the voter register, not only by state and gender, but also by age group and occupation.

Yakubu appealed to Nigerians to seize the opportunity of the ongoing nationwide display of the particulars of new voters for claims and objections as required by law.

“By doing so, citizens will be helping the Commission to further clean up the register and purge it of all ineligible registrants as required by Sec. 12 of the Electoral Act.

“The Commission has consistently shared information on the voter registration exercise with Nigerians by publishing the figures as well as detailed breakdown by states and gender’’.

Yakubu said that the meeting would consider consequential steps the commission needed to take as it continues to prepare for the 2019 general elections.

He said that the Commission would also consider options to fast track the distribution of the PVCs before general elections, including the devolution of collection to Ward level.

“We however wish to restate the Commission’s policy that no PVCs will be collected by proxy. Registered voters must endeavour to collect their cards personally.

“We are working hard to ensure that no PVC goes into the wrong hands.

On the commission’s  preparation for the Osun State Governorship election, Yakubu said all processes and activities were going according to our timetable and schedule of activities released almost a year ago.

“The last major activity was the presentation of the Voters’ Register to each of the 48 political parties fielding candidates in the election, giving detailed information of the distribution of the 1.6 million registered voters by Local Government Areas, Wards and Polling Units’’.

Yakubu said that the Commission had been working on a multi-faceted approach to the menace of vote-buying and other sundry electoral malpractices.

“We will introduce changes to the election-day administration of our polling units, in addition to the electronic tracking of our sensitive materials.

“We are discussing with the security agencies on a more vigorous enforcement of the law against voter-inducement.

“Furthermore, we are working with the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) and other stakeholders on voter education and sensitisation.

This is the third election we are conducting in Osun State since the 2015 general elections.

“The first was the Ife Central State Constituency and the Osun West Senatorial District. We wish to reassure the people of Osun state that their votes will continue to count.”

He assured Nigerians that the country’s elections would continue to meet the requirements of laws, processes and procedures as well as international best practice.

Voters Registration: INEC insists on no further extension to exercise

As INEC’s Continuous Voter Registration  (CVR) conducted by the electoral body ended on Friday, after an earlier extension to enable more eligible voters partake in the exercise, INEC has insist that there would be no further extension in the deadline date of the process. The Commission, however, revealed that the exercise would continue after the general elections.

According to Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, CPS to INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, this is due to the time required to, among other things, undertake all the back-end activities needed to produce the PVCs.

He said those who were unable to register during the period and even despite the extension, would have to wait until after next year’s general elections when the CVR would resume, adding that the Commission has registered 13.6 million new voters since April last year, when the process started.

“It was in the Commission’s bid to enable as many Nigerians as possible obtain their PVCs that the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise was launched on April 27, 2017.

“It was the first time in the history of the Commission that the CVR would be implemented on a truly continuous basis, as envisaged under the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). Before now, INEC carried out voter registration only at particular periods,” he told The Guardian.

On allegations that some prospective registrants had to tip INEC staff to get registered at all or fast-track the process, Oyekanmi said: “The CVR is free of charge and Nigerians are not required to tip INEC staff members. Anytime we receive reports of this nature, we investigate. If any staff member is found culpable, sanctions will be applied.

“I must say that in some of the cases that we investigated, it turned out that those collecting money were not INEC workers, but touts who cashed in on the situation to make quick money for themselves. Some of them have been arrested and handed over to the Police.

“However, I want Nigerians to also know that INEC has very hardworking workers who are putting in a lot of efforts to ensure that the Commission achieves its objectives. They are often unsung, but without them, the Commission cannot achieve anything.”

There was a further upsurge of eligible voters seeking registration during the last week in many centres across the country.

In virtually all the centres, the crowd was unprecedented, with many looking forlorn, as it dawned on them that they might not be registered and hence not be able to vote in the coming elections. Some of them vented their frustrations on INEC officials, who they blamed for their inability to get registered.

But Oyekanmi attributed the recent upsurge in the number of people turning up at the registration centres to the rush to beat the August 31 deadline for the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise.

On collection of PVCs, he said that is not a problem at all our centres, compared to those seeking to register, adding: “If you go to the right centre, your PVC will be waiting for you. But if you go to the wrong centre, you will not be able to get your PVC.”

Although, the collection of PVCs continues until one week to next year’s general elections, he, however, urged registered voters yet to collect their PVCs not to wait until the deadline draws close, as experienced during the CVR, before they do so, saying the earlier, the better.

He disclosed that the Commission was intensifying efforts to sensitise Nigerians on the need for those who have registered, but yet to collect their PVCs to do so, working in partnership with major stakeholders, including civil society organisations, religious bodies and leaders and the traditional rulers, just as he said all registration centres were also making PVCs available for collection.

He added: “Nigerians can also check their status on our website via http://voterreg.inecnigeria.org and follow the instructions.

Alternatively, they can check by sending an SMS in the following format- State, Last Name and Voter Identification Number (VIN) to 0817 164 6879. They will receive a response within 20 minutes.

INEC: “Why we cannot postpone 2019 elections” – Mahmood Yakubu

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will not postpone the 2019 elections because of the delay in the passage of its budget.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the clarifications while fielding questions from State House correspondents on Friday in Abuja.

He said that there was no provision under the law for postponement of elections.

“I have said this over and over again; there are no conditions under which elections should be postponed, under section 26 of the Electoral Act.

“The date is formed and fixed, February 16, 2019; we issued the timetable way in advance; for the very first time in the history of our nation, citizens of Nigeria know when elections will take place one year in advance. It has never happened before.

“Secondly, for the very first time in the history of our country, citizens know the budget of the electoral commission; citizens know line by line how much the commission proposed; what the money is going to be spent on.

“I think I am very happy with this process,” he said.

He said that as provided in the constitution, INEC had, since April 27, 2017, been registering voters consistently in response to appeal by Nigerians.

Yakubu said that INEC had created more centres for the registration but finally decided that it should suspend the process as provided for by the law, six months to the elections.

He said however that in response to appeal by Nigerians, again, INEC extended the exercise to the end of August.

“As at Saturday last week- Aug. 11- we have registered 12.1 million citizens; this will eventually be added to the 70 million voters that are already registered for the 2019 general elections.

“We have voters register of over 80 million citizens.

“Let me make this very important clarification; the registration is going to take place between 9am in the morning and 5pm daily including weekends but excluding the public holiday. You know Tuesday and Wednesday next week have been declared public holiday.

“The second important clarification that I should make is that the end of the continuous voters’ registration is Aug. 31 but that does not mean the end of the collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).

“Collection of PVCs will continue until at least one week to the general election in February 2019,’’ he said.

The INEC boss said he was not worried that the virement for the conduct of 2019 election was still before the National Assembly as he remained optimistic.

He said he had made the clarifications that the National Assembly asked for; adding the two committees on INEC expressed satisfaction on his clarifications.

He said he looked forward to hearing what the National Assembly would say.

Yakubu said that Nigerians needed to know that what the commission requested for was N189.2 billion which the executive proposed to the National Assembly.

According to him, there are no discrepancies in the figures.

He said he was in the Presidential villa to fine-tune modalities on how Nigeria would help Guinea-Bissau in its forthcoming elections as the country had requested Nigeria’s assistance.

2019: What INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu told Senate committee

Today, the Senate Committee on INEC Chaired by Senator Suleiman Nazif held a meeting with the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, and other INEC Commissioners.

Senators present were Senators: Atai Aidoko, James Manager, Mohammed Hassan, Sabi Abdullahi, Ovie Omo Agege, Olusola Adeyeye, Abdullahi Gumel, Gilbert Nnaji, Isah Misau and Senator Suleiman Nazif (Chairman Senate Committee on INEC).

“This budget defence will assure Nigerians that this Senate is committed to the Nigerian people.”- Senator Suleiman Nazif.

“This budget defence will put to an end all the political brouhaha… we will ensure that INEC receives all the necessary funding that it needs for the 2019 elections.”- Senator Suleiman Nazif.

“Distinguished Senators only received the budget details from INEC last night/this morning from INEC.”- Senator Suleiman Nazif.

“I thank members of this Committee for suspending your recess to attend to this very important national issue.”- INEC Chairman.

“Mr Chairman, this is the first time that the budget of the National Assembly is presented in this manner.”- INEC Chairman.

“For the first time, this budget is subjected to scrutiny by the National Assembly and the Nigerian people. I am happy to be a part of this process.”- INEC Chairman.

“As at Saturday, we have registered 12.1 new voters. Adding this to the 70million voter register, we have over 80million registered voters…The general elections are just around the corner.”- INEC Chairman.

“Mr Chairman, I wish to draw the attention of this Committee to the fact that there is a difference of N69billion in the budgets of 2015 and 2019.”- INEC Chairman.

“In 2015, we had 70million registered voters. As of last week Saturday, we now have over 80million registered voters.” INEC Chairman.

“All major activities are pegged against the total number of voters. In 2015, we had only 42 political parties. We now have 91 registered political parties eligible to take part in the 2019 general elections.”- INEC Chairman.

“We are hoping that all the political parties will have seamless congresses and primaries. Another issue that we have accounted for, is the processing costs of nominations.”- INEC Chairman.

“The cost of logistics is also different in 2019 as opposed to 2015, because the pump price of petrol in 2015, is different from that of 2019. This will also have an impact.”- INEC Chairman.

“With the increase of voters, we will have to increase the number of voting points. And with the increase of voting points, we will also have an increase in Ad-Hoc Staff.”- INEC Chairman.

“We have provided a line-by-line explanation and account of this budget to the Distinguished Senators.”- INEC Chairman.

“Thank you very much, Distinguished Senators, and we will be very happy to interact with the Committee.”- INEC Chairman.

“Thank you Mr Chairman for your clear explanation about the details of the 2019 General Election budget.”- Senator Suleiman Nazif.

“I will now give an opportunity for all members of the Senate Committee to ask questions.”- Senator Suleiman Nazif.

“Continuous voter registration is of great importance to Nigerians. Without which you cannot exercise your right to vote. Mr Chairman, in the 2018 budget, we made provision for this process and I believe that these funds are supposed to run till the end of the year.”- Senator Suleiman Nazif.

“Mr Chairman, in item 39, you have budget N5bn+ for this continuous voter registration. Mr Chairman, if you were provided with funds in the 2018 budget, why is this provision repeated?”- Senator Suleiman Nazif.

“The electoral act demands that we continue voter registration. Based on the budgetary provision in 2017, we could only do PVC registration at the LGA level.”- INEC Chairman.

“By the end of the Second Quarter of 2017, we had over 1400 registration centres across the country.”- INEC Chairman.

“The funds we had were not adequate. This is why in 2018, we approached the National Assembly for additional funding.”- INEC Chairman.

“The Electoral Act Amendment has been going back and forth between the National Assembly and the President. What would happen to the provisions of the Act that have been budgeted for if it is not signed by the President?”- Senator James Manager.

“Your contingency budget provisions have been cut down. I am surprised that you have decided to cut this down to only 2.5% of the budget. What informed this thinking?”- Senator James Manager.

“If the Electoral Act is not signed into law, we will continue to operate within the ambits of the law as it exists.”- INEC Chairman.

“Even if the Electoral Act is not signed into law, we need to continue to improve our electoral process to promote transparency.”- INEC Chairman.

“Why is our contingency low? If it had been 10%, it would have been considered too high. Now it is 2.5%, it is too low. However, there are some contingencies that we need to expect.”- INEC Chairman.

“There is a conflict of request here: from the letter presented by Mr President and the budget presented by INEC. You are asking for N189billion, meanwhile, Mr President is asking for N140billion.”- Senator Mohammed Hassan.

“The President is saying that the additional N45billion will be requested for in the 2019 budget. You are asking for N189billion. Which of these requests should we focus on?”- Senator Mohammed Hassan.

“There is no conflict in the letters. If you add up the requests by the President and INEC, they add up. The sequence of disbursement is up for the legislature and the executive to decide.”- INEC Chairman.

Signed:
New Media Department,
Office of the President of the Senate,
Federal Republic of Nigeria.