2023 presidential poll: We’re preparing for possible run-off –INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it is making plans for the conduct of a run-off presidential election.

A run-off election is conducted when there is no clear winner for the first election.

This can happen when the candidate who has the highest votes fails to meet the conditional requirements on vote spread across states.

Festus Okoye, INEC commissioner for information who spoke on Friday at a meeting with bureau chiefs/editors of media organisations in Abuja, said the plan is in line with the tradition of the commission for all elections.

He said plans are in place to print double of the total number of ballot papers required for the election, considering that the commission has 21 days to conduct rerun or run-off elections — as the case may be.

“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 is 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,” Okoye said.

“He must also secure a quarter of the votes cast in two-thirds of all the states of the federation and the federal capital territory. That is mandatory.

“Now, if no candidate secures this highest number of votes and the mandatory threshold, the constitution says we must have a second election within a period of 21 days.

“Now, not all candidates are going to participate in this second election. Eighteen candidates will be on the ballot for the first election.

“If no candidate emerges on the first ballot, only two candidates are going to be on the second ballot or only two candidates are going to contest the second election.

“The constitution has made it very clear that the two candidates will be on the ballot are; the one that scored the highest number of votes at the election. The second candidate that will be on the ballot will be one among the remaining candidates who have the majority of votes in the highest number of states.

“The constitution did not say that the person who came second will be the person who will be on the ballot. That’s not what constitution says.

“If 93 million ballot papers are required for the presidential election, INEC will print 186 million ballot papers just to be ready for a possible second presidential election.

“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’s no winner.”

Okoye also said all sensitive materials for the 2023 general election would be kept with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), except the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS).

“We have classified the BVAS as sensitive material and we have engaged with different security agencies to provide security for the BVAS, because the BVAS will be in the custody of the commission,” he said.

“So, we have adopted a hybrid approach as the BVAS will remain with the commission, while the ballot papers will be in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“This was the agreement we had with political parties, security agencies, civil society organisations, and media.”

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