2023: INEC’s 2022 Appropriation Act didnt reflect demand for robust, timely preparations – IPAC

The new leadership of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) led by Engr. Yabagi Yusuf Sani has reiterated its call on the executive and legislative arms of government, “to take the issue of adequate appropriation and fundings of INEC more seriously.”

Engr Sani who made this plea at the meeting of INEC with the political party leaders in Abuja said the “appeal for a more realistic funding of INEC was against the backdrop of the humongous reduction in the budgetary allocation to the agency in the recently passed 2022 Appropriation Act which in our view, did not reflect the demands of a robust and timely preparations for the 2023 general elections.”

He said “beside the significance of ensuring the success of the newly introduced digital gadgets and reforms, the relevant authorities must take into cognisance the challenges posed by the prevailing and pervading atmosphere of insecurity in the country which may not significantly abate before the historic elections.”

While commending INEC for its unprecedented outstanding performance in the Anambra state gubernatorial polls, the IPAC chairman said, the parties were “unmindful of the manifestations of incidents of hitches experienced in that exercise.

Some of their observations in Anambra, according to the IPAC chairman, were among others, we the requirement for upgrading the level of the diligence and proficiency of both its permanent and ad hoc personnel on election duties, by way of training, refresher courses and re-orientation.

He also said “there is need for a more robust deployment of logistics and greater performance in the distribution of vital election materials. Very importantly, IPAC is recommending improvement in the operational conditions of all the biometric gadgets in order to reinforce the growing confidence in their use as reliable technological devices for the enthronement of credible and transparent elections.”

He called on the INEC to take measures to rectify observed lapses in Anambra state governorship elections.

On the Electoral Act Amendment Bill the, Sani said, “Perhaps, the most serious and potent impediment to the successful conduct of the 2023 general elections, is the lingering debacle between the Executive and the Legislature on the fate of the 2021 Electoral (Amendment) Bill.

“While time is dangerously running out for the resolution of the disputes between the two arms, the IPAC is of the position that the controversy may have been contrived in the first instance, purely and clearly in the pursuits of narrow and self-centered political ambitions of some of the gladiators.

We are therefore, using this occasion to once again make our strident call for the immediate resolution of the unnecessary impasse over the Electoral Amendment Bill in the superior and overriding national interest.

“The IPAC has persistently suggested at various forums that, the first rational step in the circumstance, is for the two apex legislative houses to immediately expunge from the Bill, the provisions that make it mandatory for political parties to use Direct Primary elections in the selection of their flag bearers in general elections.

“Going forward, we have also called on the President to thereafter, assent to the bill without delay. Our concern in the IPAC, is that failure to reach a compromise in the short run may invariably translate into the death of the other very crucial provisions, such as the provisions on the Electronic Transmission of election results.

“As it is, compromise and shifting of grounds in respect of the Bill by the two arms of government, incidentally controlled by the same political party, the APC, should not ideally, be too cumbersome a task to accomplish.

“In their review of the Bill before passage for presidential assent, the IPAC is further suggesting that the National Assembly should seize the opportunity to look into the various aspects of the statute to ensure the eradication of grey areas on the basis of which the President had withheld his assent in the 2019 attempt at its amendment by the National Assembly.

“In that regard, the legislators will do well to collaborate with INEC and other strategic stakeholders such as the IPAC to guarantee the elimination of errors, ambiguities and non-compliance with provisions of the Constitution.

“We at the IPAC are anticipating the emergence of an Electoral Act that will address among others, the lingering and fundamental issues relating to the legalization of Electronic Accreditation of Voters as well as the transmission of election results; issues relating to substitution of candidates in the event of death in an election; a redefinition of what amounts to over-voting; early release of election funds to INEC; early commencement of campaigns by political parties and, the period that political parties are legally allowed to commence campaigns in the countdown to elections.”