Political parties will be free to begin open campaigns beginning from September 28, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said yesterday.
The electoral umpire plans to release on September 20 the final list of candidates for next year’s presidential, senatorial and House of Representatives elections.
According to INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu, the Commission, the publication of candidates’ list ahead of the national election is in compliance with Section 32(1) of Electoral Act 2022.
He said the final list for governorship and House of Assembly elections will be published on October 4.
Prof Yakubu spoke In Abuja at an event organised by the commission in collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) on “Conducting election in volatile security environment”.
He noted that preparations for the 2023 general election will enter critical stages this month.
Yakubu further stated that the engagement has become necessary because of the volatile security situation in parts of the country and its implications on the forthcoming elections.
He said: “Activities towards the 2023 general election will enter the critical stages this month. In the next 19 days (specifically on 20th September, 2022), the Commission will publish the final list of candidates for national elections (Presidential, Senatorial and House of Representatives) as provided in Sec. 32(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 and the Timetable and Schedule of Activities released by the commission.
“This will be followed on 4th of October, 2022 by the publication of the final list of candidates for State elections (Governorship and State Houses of Assembly).
“Campaign in public by political parties will officially commence on 28th September 2022 as provided by Section 94(1) of the Electoral Act 2022.
“As campaigns commence, we appeal to all political parties and candidates to focus on issue-based campaigns. This is the best way to complement our efforts to ensure transparent elections in which only the votes cast by citizens determine the winner.
“I have no doubt in my mind that today’s meeting meets the twin tests of relevance and timeliness. The meeting is relevant because of the volatile security situation in some parts of the country and its implications on the forthcoming elections.
“It is timely because the election is fast approaching but there is still time to address the security concerns ahead of the election.
“Most appropriately, I believe that arising from the shared experience of participants at this meeting, specific recommendations will be made to further enrich our understanding of the security issues in the forthcoming election, the various dimensions of the challenges and, most importantly, possible measures to respond to them to ensure that elections peacefully hold nationwide as required by law.
“The Commission welcomes this initiative and as Co-Chairman of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), there is no doubt that the security agencies also welcome ideas and citizens’ support towards peaceful elections.
“After all, only recently the office of the Inspector-General of Police organised a nationwide capacity-building for police personnel on election security.
“The police was not only motivated by the same concern of ensuring a secure environment for the election but also enhancing the professionalism of police personnel on election duty.”