2023: INEC To Preserve 90 Million Ballot Papers For Run-Off Election

Less than 100 days to the 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission has said that it will print 187 million ballot papers for the presidential poll scheduled for February 25, while half of these will be reserved for a possible run-off.

The commission also classified the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System as a sensitive material to be kept in its custody.

These were made known by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, INEC, Festus Okoye, in Abuja on Friday.

The commission noted that 9,518,188 new voters were added to the existing 84,004,084 to bring the total preliminary registered voters in the country to 93.5 million.

Okoye, who spoke at a roundtable with senior journalists in Abuja, said 93.5 million ballot papers would be used for the presidential election on February 25, 2023 and the remaining 93.5 million would be reserved for a possible run-off if there was no clear winner.

A similar situation, he said, would be applicable in the states for the governorship poll.

The national commissioner explained that INEC decided to print 187 million ballot papers for the presidential election as it would be difficult to engage printers at a short notice and cope with the logistics required to produce extra ballot papers.

Okoye said, “As of today, 18 political parties will participate in the 2023 general elections 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 or second elections 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 and when election petitions are disposed of, the commission will destroy the 93 million ballot papers printed for the run-off. This is because the law gives the commission just 21 days within which to engage in reverse logistics and conduct a run-off election in case there is no winner.

“Moreover, as of the time of the conduct of the presidential election, the governorship and state Assembly elections are still pending. So for the governorship election, the commission will print ballot papers for the run-off in case we have challenges in terms of winners not emerging in the first ballot in some of the states of the federation.”

Explaining how a president emerges and the conditions that may necessitate a second election, Okoye said, “Section 134 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is the fundamental law of the land, makes it mandatory 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 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory. It is mandatory.

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