Nigeria’s 2023 Election: INEC, stakeholders discuss framework on IDP voting

MINA Blog- The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has presented a validation of the revised framework and regulations for voting by internally displaced persons (IDP), to stakeholders for review and validation in preparation for the 2023 general election.

Speaking during the validation meeting with stakeholders in Abuja, the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, explained that inputs from stakeholders well help enrich the framework as well as the regulations for voting by IDPs.

Recall that ahead of the 2015 General Election, the commission introduced the idea of voting by Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). For this reason, a policy and framework designed by the Commission was revised and validated in 2018 for the 2019 General Election.

According to Prof Yakubu, the idea is to ensure that no eligible Nigerian is left out of the electoral process on account of displacement, disability or other circumstances that may limit citizens’ participation in the electoral process.

He said, “What is presented to stakeholders today has taken into consideration several developments since the last review and validation exercise in 2018. First, is the increased number of IDPs as a result of widespread insecurity nationwide. Secondly, to incorporate not only the displaced citizens arising from armed conflicts but also natural emergencies such as flooding. Thirdly, to align the framework with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, specifically Section 24(1) which empowers the Commission to ensure that, as far as practicable, no Nigerian is disenfranchised on account of displacement by emergency situations. Finally, to align the framework with the national policy on internally displaced persons 2021.

While inviting participants to contribute to the discussion at the validation meeting, he said, “What is presented to you is essentially a draft. We look forward to your input so that working together, we can enrich the framework as well as the regulations for voting by IDPs.

“Beyond the validation of the document, we also look forward to a robust collaboration with stakeholders for voter education and sensitisation of IDPs.”

The Zonal Sensitization and Candidates Colloquium on the Electoral Act 2022, Hon Dr. Aishatu Dukku commended the commitment of the Commission to inclusivity in the electoral process and in response to stakeholders’ requests in organizing IDP voting operation in the State of Emergency (SOE) states for the 2015 and 2019 general elections.

She however, explained that the policy document proposed by INEC to guide the conduct of IDP voting operations and bring the IDP communities into the voting net stakeholders is worth applauding and support from all.

While she emphasized on the need to also improve on the framework and the Regulations and Guidelines for Voting by Internally Displaced Persons which will drive IDP voting operations for the 2023 general elections.

She said, “Commission should draw lessons from the 2015 and 2019 experience and efforts made and also consult with other knowledge holders at state and national levels, and also in consideration of International best practice. That will ensure that the framework document and the Regulations and Guidelines, are grounded on practical realities.

“In all truth, the overarching guiding principle for the IDP framework by the Commission is a demonstration of commitment to inclusivity which is consistent with the avoidance of discrimination in our electoral process.”

On his part, Country Director for the International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES), Seray Jah assured that his organization remains willing and ready to support the Commission in the successful implementation of the Framework and Regulations for Voting by IDPs.

“INEC should be assured of our readiness to continually partner with the Commission in achieving its mission of serving as an independent and effective Election Management Body committed to conducting free, fair, and credible elections for sustainable democracy in Nigeria”, he said. Participants at the meeting included; Community Leaders from communities with IDPs across the country, members of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), Members of the Civil Society Community, and INEC Management staff from states with IDPs, to contribute towards enriching the document.

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