Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu yesterday explained why the electoral umpire adopted the simultaneous accreditation and voting for the forthcoming elections.
The model, the INEC boss said, was recommended by the Commonwealth Observer Mission to the 2015 general elections.
Prof Yakubu also said since the adoption of the simultaneous accreditation and voting, the commission had conducted 194 off season elections and had deployed the same process in all the elections.
He spoke yesterday during an audience with the Commonwealth Observer Mission to Nigeria led by former Tanzanian President, Dr Jakaya Kikwete in Abuja.
He also informed the 2019 Commonwealth Observer team that the simultaneous accreditation and voting has been enshrined in the Regulations and Guidelines for conduct of this year’s elections.
The INEC chairman recalled that the report of the 2015 Commonwealth Observer Mission contained 32 recommendations as well as identified institutions that should implement those recommendations.
Yakubu stated that out of the eight recommendations proposed to be implemented by INEC, the commission, after studying the report, implemented some administratively while those that require amendment of the constitution or the electoral act would have to go through legislative process.
He said: “The last Commonwealth Observer Mission had recommended that we should abolish that system that archaic system, that as citizens or voters are accredited, they should be able to vote at the same time and we have implemented this re commendation way back in January 2016 when we conducted one of the governorship elections in this country.
“Since then, we have conducted 194 off season elections and all have been conducted on the basis of simultaneous accreditation and voting or what you call continuous accreditation and voting.
“It didn’t require an amendment to the electoral legal framework for the commission to continue with the system of accreditation and voting.
“For that reason, the commission used its powers under the electoral act to make Regulations and Guidelines. It’s now in regulations for the conduct of 2019 general elections. The method of voting will be continuous accreditation and voting.”
Leader of the team and former President of Tanzania, Dr Jakaya Kikwete, said the team had come for an update on the preparations made by the commission.
In a statement, Dr. Kiwete said the mission will be impartial in its assessment of the elections, adding that an interim statement on its preliminary observations will be issued on February 18.
He said the18-man observers were drawn from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
The observers have a mandate to observe the opening, voting, closing, counting and the results management processes.
According to the statement, this year’s election will be the sixth time a Commonwealth Observer Group will be monitoring elections in Nigeria since 1999.
He said: “Our group was constituted following an invitation from the Independent National Election Commission, drawing together 18 eminent persons from across the different regions of the Commonwealth, including Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
“We come in our own individual capacities, bringing a wide range of expertise in the areas of election administration, political development, law, human rights, civil society, gender, youth, as well as media.
“As a group, we are here to observe the organization and conduct of the election process as a whole, and will form an impartial and independent assessment of its credibility.
“The Commonwealth Observer Group will consider the pre-election period, polling day itself, as well as the post-election period. Our main task is to assess whether the elections have been conducted according to the national, regional and international standards to which Nigeria has committed itself, including its own laws.
“On election day, we will observe the opening, voting, closing, counting and the results management processes.”
It also said it will submit a final report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, and thereafter share with the Federal Government, INEC, political parties and the Commonwealth governments before making it public.
The group expressed hope that its presence will confirm the unwavering solidarity of the Commonwealth with Nigeria as the country conducts the elections.
The group, however, encouraged all citizens to “play their part in ensuring peaceful and credible elections this weekend.”