Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it is prepared for a possible run-off in the 2023 Nigerian Presidential Elections, in case a candidate does not meet the required conditions to be declared winner.
This was disclosed by the Chairman of INEC’s Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, in a press briefing in Abuja on Friday.
He explained that INEC plans to print double the total required ballot papers for the first ballot, in case the elections go into a runoff.
Okoye also noted that INEC has always had possible contingency plans in case of an election run-off since Nigeria returned to democracy in 199.
INEC’s plan: He explained that INEC needed to print double the total number of ballot papers needed for the first ballot in readiness for a possible run-off. And that’s because INEC statutorily has only 21 days to conduct a rerun if the situation ever presents itself.
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He further explained that for a candidate to be declared winner, “Section 134 subsection 2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is the fundamental law of the land, makes it mandatory that before anyone is deemed to have been elected as a president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, that candidate must secure the highest number of votes cast at the election.
“He must also secure a quarter of the votes cast in two-thirds of all the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory. That is mandatory.
“Now, if no candidate secures this highest number of votes and the mandatory threshold, the Constitution says we must have a second election within 21 days. Now, not all candidates are going to participate in this second election. Eighteen candidates will be on the ballot for the first election.”
Conditions for rerun: He added that if no candidate emerges on the first ballot, only two candidates are going to be on the second ballot. The Nigerian Constitution made it very clear that the two candidates that will be on the ballot are the candidates who scored the highest number of votes at the election.
“The second candidate that will be on the ballot will be one amongst the remaining candidates who have the majority of votes in the highest number of states,” he said.
He reiterated that over 90 million ballot papers are required for the election and the number of days INEC has to conduct a run-off election is usually 21 days. Therefore, INEC will print 186 million ballot papers just to be ready for a possible second presidential election.
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“This is because the law gives the commission just 21 days within which to engage in reverse logistics and conduct a run-off election in case there’s no winner.”
Okoye added all sensitive materials for the 2023 general elections would be kept with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), except the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), stating that INEC has classified the BVAS as sensitive material and engaged with different security agencies to provide security for the BVAS because the BVAS will be in the custody of the commission.
In case you missed it: Recall that INEC recently uncovered proof of child voters and multiple registered voters in its Voter Display Scheme. The electoral umpire claimed that the discovery is a sign of its ” commitment to transparency”.
INEC stated that the purpose of the display is to enable Nigerians to scrutinize the preliminary register and make claims about the misspelling of names, personal details, or missing names ” for persons below the age of 18 years, dead persons, foreigners or those making false claims so that they can be deleted from the register.