In less than 30 days, the 2023 General Elections will commence with the elections into the office of the President and the National Assembly. While these will hold on 25 February, the gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly elections will hold on the 11th of March 2023.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has repeatedly stated its readiness for the elections. On 28 February 2022, the election management body published the Notice of Election for the 2023 general elections, in compliance with the extant provisions of the law. Section 28(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 provides that INEC issues a Notice of Elections not later than 360 days before the election. Over the past 12 months, INEC has been getting ready by ticking off various items on its timetable. Activities such as the ‘Conduct of Party Primaries’ to enable political parties to democratically nominate candidates for the 2023 General Elections as required by Section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022 have been done. Likewise, political parties have commenced campaigns in public as enabled by Section 94(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 which states that ‘Campaign in public by every political party shall commence 150 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day’.

Questions about INEC’s readiness continue to hover like a dark cloud over the commission as elections were postponed in 2011, 2015 and 2019. In 2011, INEC postponed the general elections by two days because electoral materials arrived late in some parts of the country. Voting had started in some areas before the former Chairman of INEC, Prof Attahiru Jega, announced the cancellation and postponement of the exercise citing the non-availability of materials to conduct the polls in some parts of the country. In 2015, the elections were postponed a week before the scheduled date due to security reasons. In 2019, in the wee hours of the day when the Presidential, Senate and House of Representatives membership elections were to hold, INEC announced that the exercise had been postponed by one week – from 16 to 23 February. Consequently, the governorship and state houses of assembly elections, which were to be held on 2 March, were also postponed to 9 March.

In his lecture at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), London, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman of INEC, said, “We have promised Nigerians and friends of Nigeria that the 2023 general election will be free, fair, credible and inclusive and we have left no stone unturned in preparing for it, despite several challenges… Our Commission does not take the pledge that we have repeatedly made to Nigerians lightly. We are leaving no stone unturned in our preparations. Our commitment remains only to Nigerians and not to any political party or candidate… we believe that the 2023 general election will be among the best conducted in Nigeria.”

With the INEC ticking off the PVC collection box, we can say, it’s time to ‘Go’!