At public hearing of the National Assembly Joint Committee on INEC and Electoral Matters, the election management body says there is no plan to postpone the polls, and the 2023 General Election will proceed as planned
“They are sleeping in the banking hall because they cannot have access to the little money they have. We must understand the political economy of an electoral process.”
– Senator Michael Opeyemu Bamidele
The lawmaker representing Ekiti Central Senatorial District, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, on Wednesday, stated that the most potent threat to the forthcoming 2023 general elections is the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through its ‘badly implemented Naira redesign policy.
This is as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), expressed fear over unending violence against its facilities in some parts of the country.
Senator Bamidele was speaking on Wednesday during a one-day public hearing held by the National Assembly Joint Committee on INEC and Electoral Matters, where concerns on perceived obstacles against the elections were raised by various stakeholders.
In his remarks, the Ekiti lawmaker who is a member of the committee said going by the problem of acute naira scarcity being faced by Nigerians, the Central Bank of Nigeria is the most outstanding threat to the elections. He said the selectivity of cash withdrawal plan which INEC worked out with the CBN on Tuesday, was not assuring as far as smooth conduct of the elections was concerned.
“The CBN told us at the beginning of the policy that the targets were the so-called moneybags who stashed away billions in their closets. We thought those are the people they want to get at.
We are now seeing that it is the ordinary man on the streets suffering. They are sleeping in the banking hall because they cannot have access to the little money they have. We must understand the political economy of an electoral process.
People are thinking of the money politicians would spend on vote buying, they don’t know that political parties would also mobilise people to all the polling units as agents, just like the INEC would mobilise personnel also. Today, the CBN is assuring Nigerians that it will provide money for INEC if they need more money. Are we saying that INEC must rely on the intervention of the CBN for it to perform? If the police run into logistics problems, they would also run to CBN for selective intervention.
We are fighting Boko Haram, so if the military authorities could not access funds from their banks, they will also need to approach the CBN for selective intervention. These are issues, and as a stakeholder, the CBN is the most outstanding threat to these elections holding as scheduled.
The INEC should do its best. When the political class appear to have held the nation to ransom as it appears now, it is the judiciary that will have to stand up and save the nation from the jugular of the political class.
There is definitely, a cabal that does not want this election to hold, but let us remind them; those who call themselves the cabal under President Olusegun Obasanjo they became irrelevant after that. Ditto for those who constituted themselves as a cabal under late President Umaru Yar’Adua and President Goodluck Jonathan.
The current situation shall also pass. The nation is at a crossroads, and all stakeholders must stand up in defence of our democracy.”
In her own submission, the representative of the INEC Chairman, May Agbamuche, said persistent violence could affect the credibility of the elections, especially if the attacks were targeted at INEC facilities.
She said, “With the General Election at hand, it is important to remind you all of the Commission’s commitment to free, fair and credible elections. Our preparation is, however fraught with challenges, There is no doubt that violence and the threat of violence are major challenges to credible elections in 2023,
Violence makes deployment for elections difficult, particularly where some of the attacks are targeted at INEC facilities, the electoral process and participants. However, the Commission has been working with security agencies and other stakeholders to establish mechanisms to understand, track and mitigate security challenges. We are working collaboratively in the context of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).
In all, we feel assured by the actions we have taken and our collaboration with the security agencies. The 2023 General Election will proceed as planned. There is no plan to postpone the election.”