The Independent National Electoral Commission on Saturday announced a new timetable for the 2023 general elections.
According to the comprehensive timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections released by the commission in Abuja, the presidential and National Assembly elections would now hold on Saturday, February 25, 2023 as against February 18, 2023 earlier announced, while governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections would take place on March 11, 2023.
The Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, during a press briefing in Abuja, explained that the shift was informed by the newly-signed Electoral Act.
Yakubu explained that the new dates were to allow for conformity with the provisions of the Electoral Act, which stipulated that elections notice be published at least 360 days to the elections.
The decision by INEC came barely 24 hours after the signing of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022 by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The President signed the bill 25 days after receiving the reworked bill from the National Assembly.
The delay by the President in taking a position generated anxiety and was met with widespread criticisms.
Yakubu said on Saturday that INEC could not release the detailed Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the General Elections, as it normally would, because of the pending enactment of the Electoral Act 2022, until it was signed into law by the President on Friday.
He said, “The Electoral Act 2022, together with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), form the legal basis for conducting all elections in Nigeria.
“In particular, the Electoral Act provides strict timelines for the implementation of electoral activities based on the date of the general elections.
“One of the significant timelines is the publication of Notice of Election not later than 360 days before the day appointed for holding an election which has now lapsed for the 2023 general elections.
“Consequently, the commission has decided to adjust the dates of the 2023 general elections to ensure compliance with the provisions of the new law.
“Accordingly, the presidential and National Assembly elections will now hold on Saturday, February 25, 2023 while the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections will hold two weeks later on Saturday, March 11, 2023. With this adjustment, the 2023 general election is now 363 days away.
“Under the law, there are critical time-bound activities from the publication of Notice of Election to the conduct of polls which form the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for elections.”
Yakubu emphasised that the slight changes in date for the 2023 elections would not increase the cost of the conduct of the 2023 general elections.