By Emmanuel Nduka
Nigeria’s electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced new dates for the 2023 General Elections.
Earlier, the Commission had announced February 18, 2023 as date for the Presidential polls, but on Saturday, INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, informed that new dates have been fixed for the elections.
He told newsmen at a briefing that Presidential and National Assembly elections would now hold on February 25, 2023, while Governorship and State Assembly elections will follow on March 11, 2023.
The new development comes on the heels of the signing of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday.
“The Commission has decided to adjust the dates of the 2023 General Election to ensure compliance with the provisions of the new law. Accordingly, the Presidential and National Assembly elections will now be held on Saturday 25th February 2023 while the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections will be held two weeks later on Saturday 11th March 2023,” INEC said.
According to INEC, the change was necessary as the 360-day timeline for the publication of Notice of Election had lapsed, adding that with the adjustment, the 2023 election is now 363 days away.
Prof. Yakubu added that the decision was based on the commission’s determination to create certainty in the electoral calendar and to enable all stakeholders in the electoral process prepare adequately for the elections.
“By that decision, Presidential and National Assembly elections shall hold on the third Saturday of the month of February of each General Election year, while Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections shall follow two weeks later.
“Consequently, the 2023 General Election was scheduled to commence on 18th February 2023 with the Presidential and National Assembly elections, followed by the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections on the 4th of March 2023.
“However, the commission could not release the detailed timetable and Schedule of Activities for the General Election, as it normally would, because of the pending enactment of the Electoral Act 2022. The Bill has now been signed into law,” he added.
The electoral body, also informed that campaign by political parties for the Presidential and National Assembly elections would commence on Wednesday, September 28, 2022 while that of Governorship and State Assembly elections is slated for Wednesday, October 12, 2022.
He added that the last day of the campaign by political parties for Presidential and National Assembly elections was fixed for midnight on Thursday, February 23 2023 and Thursday, March 9 2023 for Governorship and State Assembly elections.
“In addition, the Notice of Election will be published in our offices in all the States of the Federation as required by law on Monday 28th February 2022.
“With the coming into force of the Electoral Act 2022, the commission will work assiduously to conclude and publish new Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections that are consistent with the Act.
“These regulations and guidelines, as well as manuals issued by the commission, are all part of the legal regulatory framework for elections. Their timely publication will enable all stakeholders in the electoral process to become conversant with their provisions as they prepare for the 2023 General Election,” he added.