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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has organised a Public Lecture to discuss its concern for security and to explore ways of addressing the challenge. The focus on security with its import for the electoral process has the 6th November 2021 Anambra State Governorship election directly in view. 

The Lecture series which holds annually is organized by The Electoral Institute (TEI) in honour of its late Director General, Professor Abubakar Momoh. The lecture was titled “Security and Elections: Implications for Anambra State Governorship and 2023 General Elections” and was delivered by Professor Adele Jinadu. 

Chairman of INEC and Chief Host of the event, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, described the choice of topic as apt considering recent attacks on INEC facilities, and the security situation nation-wide. He expressed the concern of INEC over security impact on the on-going nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) and the forthcoming Anambra governorship election. 

Represented by National Commissioner Mohammed Haruna, who is also the Chairman, Board of the TEI, the INEC Chairman said “The topic of today’s lecture is quite significant especially with the ongoing security challenges nationwide, and particularly, as there has 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 in the country”.

“We are therefore, seriously concerned at the impact of this challenge when the physical appearance of registrants commences at the 2673 Registration Centres soon. This challenge is more pronounced as the Commission will deploy 5,345 staff to officiate in the 2,673 Registration Centres nationwide. Naturally, we are deeply concerned about their safety even more than we are about the security of our property and materials”.

He continued “more immediately, we are equally concerned about the Anambra Governorship Election that is scheduled for 6th November, 2021 especially following the attack on the head office in the state”. 

Speaking on tackling the ugly situation through stakeholder collaboration, Professor Yakubu said “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 fora such as this public lecture will continue. The Nigerian public must own the desire for democracy and peaceful conduct of elections”. 

 Chairman of the Board of the TEI, Mohammed Haruna, expressed the Commission’s concern about likely Constitutional crisis that may arise as a result of insecurity in the polity. He said “there is reason to be especially concerned about the Anambra state Governorship election and eventually the 2023 General elections. To avoid any constitutional crisis these elections must be conducted in line with the constitutional timelines”. 

“This means we must do everything to remove the security problems or any other threat to the Commission. He re-affirmed the Commission’s commitment to the delivery of its mandate hence the choice of the topic for this year’s lecture”.   

Earlier, the Director General of TEI, Dr. Saád Umar Idris, said the topic was carefully chosen considering the necessity of conducting elections and the present security situation in the country. 

He explained that “one of the strategic objectives INEC cherishes most, is to interact nationally and internationally with relevant stakeholders. Through the Electoral Institute (TEI), the Commission continually organises Policy dialogues, Round-table Series, Focus Group Discussions and now Late Professor Abubakar Momoh Memorial Lectures to interact with relevant electoral stakeholders on salient issues that can add value to conduct of free, fair and credible elections”.

“This year’s Memorial Lecture, in honour of Late Professor Abubakar Momoh, is one of such avenues to interact with Security experts, academics, media practitioners and other stakeholders critical to security of the electoral process, to discuss the security implications for Anambra State Governorship Election that comes up in the next five months and the general implications for the 2023 General Elections”, .

In his paper presentation, the Guest Lecturer, Prof. Adele Jinadu posited that deepening security situation occasioned by many societal challenges pose a great threat to the work of the Commission. In his words, “deepening poverty, intractable insurgency, rising unemployment, and poor public service delivery are already exploding into civil disobedience, anomic behavior, and extra-constitutional incendiary activities. In a context of lack of political will and national leadership among the country’s fractious mainstream political class to take decisive action to address the social question, the road to Anambra and 2023 is a difficult mine-infested one for any electoral body to navigate. 

“More ominously, the odds seem to be weighed against the feasibility of the conduct of credible elections under these circumstances, with fears expressed that the controversial, indeed nebulous doctrine of democracy may be proclaimed again as an easy way out”, he added.

In attendance at the public lecture were National Commissioners Festus Okoye Esq., Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu, Mrs May Agbamuche-Mbu, and AVM Tijjani Muázu (Rtd). 

Others were: Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), FCT, Mr Yahaya Bello, representative of the EFCC Chairman, Babangida Bello, Representatives of various Security organisation, members of the Academia, representatives of the Civil Society community, senior officials of INEC and the Media. 

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