Advocates of a new electoral law may have lost their battle.
President Muhammadu Buhari has returned the Electoral Bill to the National Assembly, stating why he did not sign it.
And yesterday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it was moving ahead with its preparation for next year’s general elections despite the President’s stand.
INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said the commission would conduct next year’s election using the exiting laws that are presently valid and in place.
He said the commission would not be distracted by the wrangling between the Presidency and National Assembly.
INEC, Yakubu added, is fine-tuning its processes and procedures to ensure it delivered a good election next year.
He spoke at a national peace conference on 2019 general elections organised by Youngstar Development Initiative with support from the National Democratic Initiative.
The INEC chairman, who was represented by National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee Festus Okoye, urged registered political parties, their candidates and supporters to place national interest over their own personal interest.
He said: “As a commission, we are fine-tuning our processes and procedures towards delivering good elections in 2019. The commission is focused and will conduct an election that the Nigerian people will be proud of. But that election has to be and must be conducted under a very peaceful environment.
“The commission is not bothered and will not be distracted by the hue and cry over certain issues and decisions taken by the President and the National Assembly. The commission is focused on organising the 2019 elections using the extant laws, using the laws that are valid as at today and we will not be distracted.
“We urge all registered political parties, their candidates and their supporters to place the national interest over their own personal interest.”
Yakubu added that the commission has constituted a committee to oversee the situation room and collation centres.
He expressed concerns over the safety and security of corps members and other officials that will participate in the election.
United States Ambassador to Nigeria Stuart Symington said it was important that the country conducted a violence-free election next year.
He urged the youths to take charge of next year’s election by ensuring that they elect the right leaders.
Symington added that next year presents an opportunity for Nigerian youths to contribute to the country’s democracy.
A music star, Innocent Idibia, urged Nigerians to vote and not fight, noting that election is not a war.
Idibia, who is the Vote not Fight Campaign ambassador, said there was need for the country to conduct smooth, free, fair and credible elections.
Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council John Ameh called on INEC to ensure that the election was transparent and credible.