The Independent National Electoral Commission has rejected calls for the re-ordering of the sequence of the 2023 general elections.
The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, INEC, Festus Okoye made this known in an interview with our correspondent on Sunday.
A civil society group, Conference of Civil Society of Nigeria, had on Saturday called on the commission to re-order the election sequence.
The group said the 2023 polls should start with the governorship elections, and not the presidential election as contained in INEC’s timetable, noting that the re-ordering of the election sequence is necessary to avoid any disruption that might arise from the conduct of the presidential poll.
Responding, Okoye said, “The Independent National Electoral Commission does not and will not on any account share its constitutional and legal powers with any individual, group, or organisation. It is the sole responsibility and prerogative of the commission to organise, undertake and supervise all elections to the offices of the President and Vice-President, the governor, and deputy governor of a state, and the membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the House of Assembly of each state of the federation.
“By the provisions of sections 132(1) and 178(1) of the Constitution, an election to the office of the President and Governor shall be held on a date to be appointed by the Independent National Electoral Commission in accordance with the Electoral Act. Sections 132(2) and 178(2) of the same Constitution makes it mandatory that an election to the said offices shall be held on a date not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of that office.
“On February 26, 2022, the commission, in compliance with section 28 of the Constitution, gave the statutory notice, stating the dates of the 2023 general elections and the place at which nomination papers are to be delivered. It is too late in the day to suggest an adjustment or tinkering with the sequence of elections.
“Suggestions in that direction are diversionary and intended to create an atmosphere of uncertainty in the electoral process. Dates for the conduct of elections and the sequence of elections must be certain and not subject to arbitrary change.”