The Independent National Electoral Commission on Friday explained why it would be printing double the number of registered voters for the presidential election slated for 25 February, 2023.
About 93.5 million people are on the INEC register for next year’s general elections.
Hence , the Commission would be printing a total of 187 million ballot papers for the presidential election.
The reason according to National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye is to make provision for a possible rerun in a case where there is no clear winner at the February poll.
Okoye spoke at a Roundtable with Bureau Chiefs/ Editors in Abuja.
“Section 134 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that before anyone can be 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 and must also secure a quarter of the votes cast in two-third of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
Where if no candidate secures this highest number of votes the constitution says a second election within a period of 21 days must be conducted .
Okoye therefore said that in line with the constitution, commission only has 21 days to conduct a rerun, hence it will be difficult to engage printers at such a short notice.
He also argued that the process would also be hampered by logistics.
Okoye said “As of today, 18 political parties will participate in the 2023 general election and the law has outlined how candidates will emerge and how a presidential candidate will emerge in Nigeria. Because of the limited time on the Commission and by the law; in case a candidate does not emerge from the first ballot, the Commission prints ballots for run off elections (second election) when we are printing ballots for the main election. In other words, if 93 million Nigerians are on the ballot for the presidential election, we will print 93 million ballots for the first election and at the same time, print 93 million ballots for the run off election in case a winner does not emerge from the first ballot.
“If at the end of the day, there is no run off, when election petitions are disposed of, the Commission will destroy the 93 million ballots printed for the run off. This is because the law gives the Commission just 21 days within each to engage in reverse logistics and conduct a runoff election in case there is no winner. Moreover, as at the time of the conduct of the Presidential election, the governorship elections and State Assembly elections are still pending. So for the governorship election, the Commission will print at least run off ballots for four governorship elections in case we have challenges in terms of a winner not emerging in the first ballot in some of the states of the federation.
“Okoye said 18 candidates will be on the ballot for the first election. If no candidate emerges from the first ballot, the top two candidates will contest in the second election.
“The Commission is prepared for the second election if the situation arises taking into consideration the fact that it will be difficult to engage in reverse logistics and then begin to look for printers to print 93 million ballots before we start thinking of how to move them to the states, local governments, wards, and polling units. We will print a ballot for the main election and the ballot for the runoff election at the same time. That is what the Commission will do.”