The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has postponed the Governorship and states Houses of Assembly election by a week.
The election now holds on Saturday, March 18, 2023.
The rescheduling is coming about 48 hours to the eve of the already scheduled March 11 Governorship poll in 28 states of the Federation and State Assembly election in all the 36 states across the country.
Rumour of the postponement pervaded the social media late Wednesday evening, until a confirmation by INEC was announced by the National Commissioner & Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Barrister Festus Okoye, few minutes after 12.00a.m Wednesday night.
Okoye in the late night statement said the decision to shift the poll was made at a meeting later in the day, held to assess its impact of ruling earlier in the day by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (EPT), on the reconfiguration of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), used for the Presidential election held on 25th February 2023.
Confirming the shift in election date, Okoye said “Nigerians would recall that on 3rd March 2023, the Presidential EPT had given an ex- parte order for some political parties to inspect materials used for the Presidential election, including the forensic inspection of over 176,000 BVAS used in the election which are located in INEC LGA offices across the country.
“The Commission approached the Tribunal to reconsider the order, given that the BVAS Systems were to be deployed for the Governorship and State Assembly elections and that the lack of a clearly defined timeframe for the inspection could disrupt the Commission’s ability to conduct the outstanding elections.
“For instance, the BVAS can only be activated on the specific date and time of an election. Having been used for the Presidential and National Assembly elections on 25th February 2023, it is necessary to reconfigure the BVAS for activation on the date of the Governorship and State Assembly elections.
“While the ruling of the Tribunal makes it possible for the Commission to commence the preparation of the BVAS for the Governorship and State Assembly elections, it has come far too late for the reconfiguration to be concluded. Consequently, the Commission has taken the difficult but necessary decision to reschedule the Governorship and State Assembly elections which will now take place on Saturday 18th March 2023. By this decision, campaigns will continue until midnight of Thursday 16th March 2023 i.e. 24 hours before the new date for the election.
“This decision has not been taken lightly but it is necessary to ensure that there is adequate time to back up the data stored on the over 176,000 BVAS machines from the Presidential and National Assembly elections held on 25th February 2023 and then to reconfigure them for the Governorship and State Assembly elections. This has been the practice for all elections, including the period when the Commission was using the Smart Card Readers.”
However, Okoye said that the Commission is not against litigants inspecting election materials, adding that consequently, it will continue to grant all litigants access to the materials they require to pursue their cases in court.
Assuring Nigerians and parties of safety of data recorded from the presidential polls, he said that “the data from the Presidential and National Assembly elections will be backed up and available in INEC cloud facilities, including the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV). Political parties can apply for Certified True Copies of the backend data of the BVAS. Also, the results on the BVAS will continue to be available on the IReV for interested parties to access.”
The Commission thanked p Nigerians and friends of Nigeria for their understanding as INEC continue to deal with these difficult issues and navigate these challenging times.