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2023: Fuel scarcity, naira redesign, other factors that may affect elections

As the preparation for the seventh general elections since Nigeria’s return of democracy in 1999 reaches its crescendo, stakeholders are worried over some factors that…

As the preparation for the seventh general elections since Nigeria’s return of democracy in 1999 reaches its crescendo, stakeholders are worried over some factors that may affect the February/March polls.

There are fears that if not properly addressed, the crises, including insecurity as well as fuel and naira scarcity, may negatively impact the voters’ turnout and disrupt elections. Daily Trust highlights some of these factors.

Insecurity

Insecurity in different parts of Nigeria has been described as a potential threat to the forthcoming elections. This may affect the electoral fortunes of candidates who regard such areas as their strongholds.

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These security issues include attacks on offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in some parts of the country, killings in the South East, banditry in the North West, among other security challenges.

INEC had once raised the alarm over the rising security situation across the country and its potential impact on the 2023 general elections.

The commission noted that the forthcoming elections faced threats of cancellation or postponement of election results in many parts of the country should the security situation fail to improve.

“If the insecurity is not monitored and dealt with decisively, it could ultimately culminate in the cancellation and/or postponement of elections in sufficient constituencies to hinder declaration of election results and precipitate constitutional crisis,” the commission had said.

Fuel scarcity

Nigerians have been battling lingering fuel scarcity since December 2022, resulting in long queues for petrol while many filling stations sell above the official pump price. INEC recently raised the alarm that the development could hamper logistics during the elections.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, while addressing members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers recently, noted that the issue of logistics had become a perennial problem in the election administration in Nigeria.

He said, “The commission shares your concern about the fuel situation in the country and its impact on transportation on election day. The truth is that our arrangements may be negatively affected by the non-availability of products.

“I wish to assure Nigerians that we will continue to engage every national institution for the success of the 2023 general election.”

PVC collection

Thousands of people have besieged various centres designated by INEC across the 774 local government areas of the country for the collection of their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).

There are reports of low collection rate as many people are discouraged by having to spend hours at the collection centres due to crowds. While INEC has extended the deadline for PVC collection till February 5, pundits have called on the commission to ease the process, warning that many eligible voters may end up being disenfranchised.

Naira redesign

The naira redesign policy introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has raised a dust. Many Nigerians currently have hard times withdrawing cash from Automated Teller Machines and inside banking halls amid the February 10 deadline given by the CBN to phase out the old naira notes of N200, N500 and N1,000.

Political and religious leaders as well as business owners have called for the extension of the deadline, saying the timing of the policy is wrong with regard to the forthcoming elections.

After meeting with some APC governors on Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari, promised to make a major decision on the naira crisis within a week.

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