The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Thursday reiterated that the February 18 date for the 2023 presidential election remains unchanged.
INEC Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu announced this at the inauguration of the House of Representatives Special Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution at the National Assembly Abuja.
He urged the lawmakers to ensure timely review of the present Electoral Act for the use of technologies in the electoral process, saying the commission had some 855 days left for the 2023 general elections.
In the just concluded governorship polls in Edo and Ondo states, INEC deployed the use of technology as a measure aimed at improving the electoral system.
The innovations worked as the polls were adjudged free, fair and credible by majority stakeholders.
To further demonstrate its readiness, the commission also engaged over 40 ICT firms for the use of electronic voting and the collation of results.
Some of the novel ideas include a dedicated online portal and INEC Result Viewing (IRV), which enabled Nigerians view results from polling units in real-time on election days, as well as the use of the Z-pad.
Inaugurating the committee, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila underscored the importance of the constitution review to “identify those areas where the laws of our land have not lived up to expectations and fix the gaps.”
“We are commencing this constitutional review process at a time of great and ongoing upheaval in our country.
“New challenges emerge daily from every corner. Some of these challenges are of our own making, and others, we could not have foreseen or been prepared for.
“Whichever may be the case, the Nigerian people look up to us as a government to proffer solutions that work, to do the heavy lifting of writing the new constitution, one better suited to our current aspirations and reflecting our vision of the future.”
CSJ on election expenses
Meanwhile, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has said giving the current value of the naira and sundry issues in the political landscape, N7 billion budget for a presidential candidate is realistic.
CSJ Lead Director Barrister Eze Onyekpere made the recommendation in his paper ‘Provisions for the Amendment of Campaign Finance Laws in the 1999 Constitution and Electoral Act 2010,’ at the two-day seminar themed ‘Programme for the Validation Workshop on Reform of Political Finance Laws and Policies’ holding in Abuja.
He said the maximum election expenses to be incurred by a candidate at a governorship election shall be four hundred million naira (N400, 000,000).
“The maximum amount of election expenses to be incurred in respect of Senatorial seat by a candidate at an election to the National Assembly shall be eighty million naira (N80,000,000), while the maximum expenses for the seat for House of Representatives shall be fifty million naira (N50,000,000).
“In the case of State Assembly election, the maximum amount of election expenses to be incurred shall be twenty million naira (N20, 000,000). In the case of a chairmanship election to an Area Council, the maximum amount of election expenses to be incurred shall be twenty million naira (N20, 000,000). In the case of councillorship election to an Area Council, the maximum amount of election expenses to be incurred shall be three million naira (N3,000, 000),” he said.
Onyekpere also recommended the power to determine the maximum of election expenses be left with the INEC in consultation with the political parties and the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“The Commission in consultation with the political parties and the Central Bank of Nigeria shall review the limitation in subsection (1) if it is satisfied that the value of the naira has been substantially altered.
“The logic and empirical basis of the above limitations were not articulated in the Act and INEC or the National Assembly has not come out with any justifications. Is it based on the number of voters to be addressed by the candidate or the land area to be covered or media and other expenses?” he queried.
On Campaign Finance Tracking for the 2019 general elections, an assistant director in the commission, Mr. Ishaq Garba Aliyu, reeled out the challenges to include; inadequate funds, non-disclosure of campaign itinerary, difficult terrain and inadequate security.
Others are violence at campaign rallies, non-return of reporting forms by political parties, among others.
He said a comprehensive report on campaign finance tracking/reporting would be released soon by INEC.