THE Independent National Electoral Commission, on Sunday, said it had no plans to change the date for the 2023 general elections.

INEC chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

This, the commission explained, was despite the attacks on its chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, by the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi.

INEC said it would amount to abdication of constitutional and legal responsibility to suspend planning (because of security challenges) for the 2023 election in the face of the obvious constitutional crisis that would arise.

Yakubu had during a public hearing on the ‘Electoral Offences Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2021,’ organised by the Senate Committee on INEC, in Abuja, announced dates for the 2023 general elections.

He said, “By the principle established by the commission, the 2023 general elections will hold on Saturday February 18 2023, which is exactly one year, nine months, two weeks and six days away.”

However, Umahi, while handing over vehicles procured by the State government to security agencies said, “Our nation is so much at crossroads. I was very shocked when people were announcing dates for 2023 elections. It is very unfortunate.”

In response, the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, told The PUNCH, “The commission cannot halt its preparations pending the neutralization of security challenges in the country.

“It is the responsibility of all Nigerians especially the security agencies and those exercising executive and legislative powers to find solutions to the security challenges facing the country.

“It will be tragic if the commission folds its hands and adds a constitutional crisis to the current security challenges.

“The suggestion therefore is that we should discontinue our preparations pending when things normalize? Those making this suggestion should be properly guided by the constitution and the law.

“Every serious political party and every perceptive political leader has an idea of the timeline and schedule of activities for all off season governorship elections and the 2023 general election.

“Constitutionally and legally, the President and Governors are elected for a four-year period and this is a notorious fact. Section 135 (2) of the constitution makes it mandatory for a President to vacate office at the expiration of a period of four years.

“Nigerians are aware that the last general election to elect the President and a majority of governors took place in 2019 and that the four-year period will elapse in 2023.”

They even settled to contest? “Who is contesting under APC? Nobody, because they know that they cannot win election again.”

*Read original copy in PUNCH.