President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday assured Nigerians that the forthcoming elections will hold as scheduled.
The president stated this while receiving the executive members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) at the State House, Abuja.
Mixed reactions have continued to trail the statement of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday that this year’s general elections faced threat of cancellation and postponement if the waves of insecurity in parts of the country are not addressed.
A source at the meeting said the president assured the clerics that the elections would be conducted as scheduled by INEC.
“The president said the dates for the general elections fixed by the electoral body are sacrosanct and urged that all should support INEC and work towards peaceful, credible and fair elections,” the source said pleading not to be named.
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But a statement issued by President Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, quoted him as saying “Boko Haram was fraudulent and a plot to destroy Nigeria.”
He faulted the ideology of the terrorist group which barred people from seeking knowledge thereby affecting the intellectual growth of citizens.
President Buhari said the gains recorded in security would be further consolidated, and more attention would be given to the economy, before handing over on May 29, 2023.
The president said the security situation had improved over the years, particularly in the North East where the focus had shifted to rebuilding infrastructure and re-orientation on education.
“I am very grateful for your visit to the Presidential Villa, and I agree with you on some of the observations you have made. The question of insecurity is most important to us because unless a country or institution is at peace, it will be difficult to manage.
“I just came back from Adamawa and Yobe states. During the visit to both states, I listened carefully to what the people and officials had to say. And they all said the situation had improved since 2015, especially in Borno State.
“Boko Haram was just fraudulent and a plot to destroy Nigeria. You can’t say people should not learn; the people need to grow intellectually,’’ he said.
On the economy, the president said creditors had full confidence in Nigeria, with the capacity to utilise resources and repay loans before the approvals were granted.
In his remarks, the leader of the delegation and President of the CBCN, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, commended President Buhari for reforms in the electoral system, making it more stable and fair, particularly the signing of the Electoral Bill into law.
“Please do not relent in making sure that INEC and other relevant agencies of government carry out their serious duties to conduct peaceful, free, fair, and credible elections,’’ he said.
Ugorji urged the president to use the remaining months in office as commander-in-chief to tackle insecurity in the country, and improve the economy.
No postponement -INEC
Also, yesterday, INEC said that there is no plan to either cancel or postpone this year’s general elections.
The INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this on Wednesday in Abuja during a meeting with the leadership of the nation’s 18 registered political parties.
The event also witnessed the presentation of the national register of voters to chairmen and secretaries of the parties.
According to Yakubu, the commission has been bolstered by assurances of the nation’s defence, security and intelligence architecture that it would ensure a safe and conducive environment for the elections.
This, he said, has made the commission go ahead with its schedules and timetable of activities and thus has commenced the airlift of sensitive and non-sensitive materials to states. He also said 93,469,008 registered voters, comprising 49,054,162 males and 44,414,846 females are eligible to vote in this year’s general elections.
He said 49,054,162 males and 44,414,846 females, will vote in the 2023 polls to elect the president, governors, national and state assembly members.
A breakdown of the figure, showed that the males constitute 52.5 per cent, while the females make up 47.5 per cent of the total figure.
The statistics also show that Lagos State has 7,060,195 registered voters to top the list, with Kano State next with 5,921,370, followed by Kaduna State with 4,335,208 registered voters.
Ekiti State has the least registered voters with 987,647. Yobe State has 1,485,146 registered voters and Bayelsa 1,056,862.
Yakubu said, “At the end of the period for claims and objections by citizens, the commission received 53,264 objections from Nigerians to the prevalence of ineligible persons on the register by virtue of age, citizenship or death. These names have been verified and removed from the register.
“Consequently, the register of voters for the 2023 general elections stands at 93,469,008. Of this cumulative figure, 49,054,162 (52.5%) are males while 44,414,846 (47.5%) are females.”
He also said that the distribution by age group shows that 37,060,399 (39.65%) are youth – between the ages of 18 and 34; 33,413,591 (35.75%) middle-aged persons between the ages of 35 and 49; 17,700,270 (18.94%) elderly voters between the ages of 50 and 69 while 5,294,748 (5.66%) are senior citizens aged 70 and above.
In terms of occupational distribution, INEC boss said students constitute the largest category with 26,027,481 (27.8%) of all voters, followed by 14,742,554 (15.8%) farmers/fishermen and 13,006,939 (13.9%) housewives.
According to him, the data on disability was not collected for previous registration and that however, the cumulative figure of 85,362 persons from the recent CVR indicates that there are 21,150 (24.5%) persons with Albinism; 13,387 (15.7%) with physical impediments and 8,103 (9.5%) are blind.
Responding on behalf of the parties, the National Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Engr, Yabagi Yusuf Sani, represented by the National Secretary, Alhaji Yusuf Mamman Dantalle, commended INEC’s efforts in ensuring that power is peacefully transferred in the country.
By Muideen Olaniyi & Abbas Jimoh
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