Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent to the ammended Electoral Bill on Friday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced new dates for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.
The commission had earlier announced February 18,,2023 for the presidential election.
On Saturday, the commission’s chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, told journalists that new dates have been fixed for the elections.
Presidential and National Assembly elections have been slated for February 25, 2023 while governorship and state assembly elections will now be held on March 11, 2023.
He said the Commission was waiting for the president’s decision on the bill before releasing its schedule of activities for the 2023 poll.
The bill was signed into law on Friday by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari had rejected the same bill five times, citing reasons such as drafting errors to proximity to the date of elections, insecurity, cost of executing of its provisions among others.
In his address to journalists at an emergency meeting held at the commission’s headquarters, Mr Mahmood said the new dates are in conformity with the INEC’s aim of ensuring certainty in its electoral calendar.
“Therefore, the Electoral Act 2022, together with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), form the legal basis for conducting all elections in Nigeria. In particular, the Electoral Act provides strict timelines for the implementation of electoral activities based on the date of the General Election. One of the significant timelines is the publication of Notice of Election not later than 360 days before the day appointed for holding an election which has now lapsed for the 2023 General Election.
“Consequently, the Commission has decided to adjust the dates of the 2023 General Election to ensure compliance with the provisions of the new law. Accordingly, the Presidential and National Assembly elections will now hold on Saturday 25th February 2023 while the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections will hold two weeks later on Saturday 11th March 2023. With this adjustment, the 2023 General Election is now 363 days away,” he said.
Before the new dates, both the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections were slated for March 4, 2023.
With the new law, the INEC at the meeting, announced a new timetable and schedule of activities ahead of the polls.
In his address, Mr Mahmood said the commission will publish the notice of election across its offices in the country on February 28 while political parties have from April 4 to June 3, 2022 to conduct their primaries and ensure resolution of disputes from the exercise.
For the Presidential and National Assembly elections, political parties and candidates are to submit their nomination forms to the INEC via its online portal between “9.00am on Friday 10th June 2022 to 6.00pm on Friday 17th June 2022” while those contesting for Governorship and State Assembly elections should follow the same process between “9.00am on Friday 1st July 2022 to 6.00pm on Friday 15th July 2022.”
“Commencement of Campaign by political parties for Presidential and National Assembly election – Wednesday 28th September 2022.
“Commencement of Campaign by political parties for Governorship and State Assembly elections – Wednesday 12th October 2022.
“Last day of campaign by political parties for Presidential and National Assembly elections – midnight on Thursday 23rd February 2023.
“Last day of campaign by political parties for Governorship and State Assembly elections – midnight on Thursday 9th March 2023,” the INEC chairman said.
Mr Yakubu threatened to take on any of the participating political parties who fail to adhere to the released schedule of activities and timetable.
In his response to the concerns raised by journalists at the event over the dysfunctional state of the BVAS as observed in the previously held elections, Mr Mahmood said the glitches had been worked upon.