By Diana Omueza
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reassured of free, fair, credible and hitch-free 2023 general election.
INEC National Commissioner, retired Maj.-Gen. Abubakar Alkali, said this on Wednesday in Abuja at a One-day National Dialogue organised by Cleen Foundation with the theme “Security Agencies and Nigeria’s 2023 Election.”
Alkali said that the INEC was prepared to deliver on its mandate without fear or bias.
“I want to state clearly the mission of INEC as established by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is to serve as an independent and effective election management body capable of conducting free, fair, credible and all inclusive election for the sustainability of democracy.
“So, in that aspect INEC doesn’t and will not waiver in conducting the 2023 general election and in this aspect we are very prepared,” he said.
The commissioner said that INEC Chairman and National Security Adviser were Co-Chairmen of the Inter-agencies Conservatory Committee on election to ensure that the conduct was violence free.
“When this two leaders call for any meeting, information is sent down the line to the states and the security replica can be found in all the states of the federation.
“So INEC security and EOs are in all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, just like the local government chairmen and so also in this aspect, INEC will not waiver also but will deliver in its mandates,” he said.
He said that the commission was constantly getting information, gathering intelligence and synergising with security agencies and that so far, so good, the intelligence gathered was enough to assure Nigerians of peaceful poll.
Retired Gen. Martin Luther-Agwai, former Chief of Defence Staff, said that he had listened to all the intelligent security stakeholders, particularly the lead security agency on election and internal security the police.
“The police obviously have been training, they have been discussing across-the-board with all stakeholders and they also have others supporting them.
“Like the military, the intelligence community and men and women of good will of Nigeria that are all there supporting them.
“So I am positive that we are going to have a very peaceful election.
“And definitely in the country as big as Nigeria there may be one or two incidences but I don’t think with the commitment that Nigerian have, with the cry that we want this country to move forward,” he said.
He added: “And with the love we have as the largest black country on earth, I believe we will come out in numbers to elect the party and the person and persons that we believe would do us the best to resolve our challenges.
“And I believe that if our security and economic challenges are taking care of, all other things would fall in order.”
Dr Christ Kwaga, the Interim Country Manager, U.S Institute of Peace (USIP), said that a national dialogue on security, ahead the general election was timely and more should be instituted by the relevant electoral stakeholders.
Kwaga lauded Nigerians for their enthusiasm during the voters’ registration, collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) as well as enthusiasm displayed by engaging those contesting for various elective positions across the country.
“I like the enthusiasm of Nigerians in terms of how they are engaging in debates when it comes to candidates; what the political parties are saying; when it comes to the preparedness of INEC and most importantly the security agencies.
“Nigerians are engaging everyone on every platform and a meeting like this that has brought together people form INEC, the security agencies particularly the Police and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
“Just to dialogue and look into wherewe are coming from in terms of some of the key challenges on ground, how to confront them and the effectiveness of the different responses and how we can improve on them is quite timely and apt,” he said.
Mr Peter Gad, the Executive Director, Cleen Foundation, said that his expectations from the dialogue was on how the conduct of the election would ensure the safety of lives and property of Nigerians.
“My expectations from INEC amd the security agencies is simply for no life to be lost and no property destroyed or damaged before, during and after the electoral process.
“Let people not be intimidated, let Nigerians feel free to go and vote and let their vites know count.
“I expect that there should be security for everyone, for the major parties, for the snaller parties, for men, for women and for Person’s with Disabilities (PWDs),” he said.
Gad said that his expectations were just for free, fair, peaceful and safe conduct of the election as well as a happy and celebrative outcome.(NAN)