The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC on Wednesday in Abuja expressed deep worries over the oncoming November 6 governorship election in Anambra following the level of insecurity and attacks on its facilities.
It expressed its determination to face the challenges, however.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, expressed the concerns in a lecture delivered on his behalf at the 2021 annual Abubakar Momoh Memorial Lecture organised by The Election Institute (TEI).
The memorial lecture holds annually in honour of erstwhile Director-General of the TEI, Late Prof. Abubakar Momoh, who died on the then Democracy Day, May 29, 2017.
This year’s lecture, with the topic: “Security and Elections: Implications for Anambra State Governorship and 2023 General Elections, was delivered on behalf of Prof. Yakubu by one of INEC’s National Commissioners, Malam Mohammed Haruna.
Haruna said INEC was also worried about the likely effects of insecurity on its on-going Continuous Voter Registration.
“The topic of today’s lecture is quite significant; especially with the on-going security challenges nationwide and particularly as there have been numerous attacks on the Commission’s offices and properties all over the country.
“For instance between 2019 general elections and now, there have been attacks on 42 INEC offices.
“We are, therefore, seriously concerned at the impact of this challenge when the physical appearance of registrants begin at the 2,673 Registration Centres soon.
“This challenge is more pronounced as the Commission will deploy 5,345 staff to officiate in the 2,673 Registration Centres.
“Naturally, we are deeply concerned about their safety even more than we are about the security of our property and materials,’’ he said.
“More immediately, we are equally concerned about the Anambra governorship election that is scheduled for November 6, especially following the attack on the head office in Anambra.
“The Commission, in collaboration with all stakeholders is determined to tackle this challenge.
“Definitely, we cannot face it alone. This is why voter education and information, constant dialogue, community outreaches, deliberations and assessment such as this public lecture will continue.
“The Nigerian public must own the desire for democracy and peaceful conduct of elections,’’ Haruna stressed.
Delivering his own paper, Haruna, who is Chairman of TEI, described security as a critical issue that goes along with elections, saying elections could hardly be conducted in the face of insecurity.
He noted that all facets of daily living in Nigeria today were faced with insecurity.
“In this respect, there is reason to be especially concerned about the Anambra governorship election and eventually the 2023 general elections.
“To avoid any constitutional crisis these elections must be conducted in line with constitutional timelines.
“This means we must do everything to remove the insecurity or any other threat to the Commission’s commitment to the delivery of its mandate,’’ he said.
In his own contribution, the Director-General of TEI, Dr Sa’ad Idris, said the theme of this year lecture was carefully chosen considering the necessity of conducting elections and the present obtainable insecurity in the country.
He said before now, Nigeria used to grapple with preponderance of political violence and thuggery at elections and that it made Nigerians to approach elections and democratic processes with apprehension and anxiety.
“The unfortunate situation we face today is that the security situation has degenerated beyond reckless manipulations, politics of brinkmanship and subversion.
“The constant fears expressed today by the electoral umpire INEC, the electorate and Nigerians in general are the possibility of insecurity at elections, banditry, kidnapping and the threat of highly dangerous criminal elements marauding the country as a whole,’’ he added.
Idris said for INEC and other stakeholders who are conscious of their responsibilities of ensuring the conduct of free, fair, credible and inclusive elections, security issues must be frontally discussed and tackled.