Next Election: Edo Governorship Elections-21st September 2024


National Commissioners
Resident Electoral Commissioners
Our Partners, DAI and IFES
Secretary to the Commission
DG of the Electoral Institute
Directors and other Officials of the Commission
The Media
Ladies and Gentlemen

1. In keeping with tradition, I would like to join the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Lagos State to welcome you all to this occasion.

2. Retreat such as the one we are gathered here for has become a well-established global practice. For us in INEC, retreat is not just about induction of new appointees. Beyond that, it is an opportunity to review performance, reappraise processes, discuss innovations, engage service providers, interface with lawmakers on critical areas of reform and explore new frontiers in our continuous effort to improve organisational capacity for better service delivery.

3. Many of you here may recall that this is the 5th retreat organised by the Commission in the last two years. In March 2022, we had an induction retreat for new National Commissioners, followed by another one on election logistics in October and then another retreat for new RECs in November. The most recent retreat was held in August last year to the review of the 2023 General Election. Today, we are holding another retreat to induct 10 new RECs: nine of them were sworn-in on 12th December 2023 and one of them on 30th January 2024. In a matter of weeks after the swearing-in, many of the of the new RECs were saddled with the task of conducting re-run elections in a few locations in some constituencies or bye-elections in entire constituencies.

4. As I said repeatedly on many occasions, the reality of the work we do in INEC is that there is no election season in Nigeria at all. Elections are held all-year round in addition to numerous electoral activities such as voter registration. Even today’s retreat is holding against the background of forthcoming governorship elections in Edo State in the next 81 days and Ondo State in the 137 days. In addition, there are five pending bye-elections for Babura/Garki Federal Constituency of Jigawa State and four State constituencies: Khana II of Rivers State, Bagwai/Shanono of Kano State, Zaria Kewaye of Kaduna State and Ganye of Adamawa State. These outstanding bye-elections bring the total of such elections to 14 since the inauguration of the national and state assemblies in June last year.

5. Looking forward, there are four major elections before the next General Election in 2027. The Anambra State Governorship election next year will be followed in 2026 by the Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections and, I must remind you in case you forget, the Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Therefore, as we think, reflect and innovate for credible elections, we are also instantly implementing the reforms and innovations that we can introduce by administrative action. Since election is a process governed by law, we also plan to intensify our engagement with the National Assembly for activities that require legal reform.

6. The format for today’s retreat is slightly modified. Instead of the general presentations by all Departments and Directorates at the Headquarters, we considered it more appropriate to limit the Departmental presentations while providing for discussions at the end of each presentation. I must also add that in making your contributions, let us maintain the spirit of retreat and not that of a seminar or workshop. This is also not a review meeting. We are done with these

engagements and both the General Election and Review report will soon be made public.

7. As new RECs, we should focus on how we can acquaint ourselves more with the processes and procedures of the Commission. For the veterans, we should leverage on our privileged field experience to contribute on how to mitigate recurring challenges in the areas of pre-election and post-election litigations, operational issues especially in the area of logistics, improvement on voter education processes, issues of strategic communication and combating fake news, misinformation and disinformation as well as inclusivity in the electoral process, voter registration, allotting voters to polling units, the role of technology from pre-election activities to Election Day processes, political party issues mainly arising from leadership crisis and the management of party primaries, the recruitment and training of election duty officials, election security and our own code of conduct. In a well organised retreat such as this one, there is always something new to learn. Upon reflection, there is also new experience to share with colleagues. However, always bear in mind that the cardinal objective is improved service delivery.

8. Therefore, my responsibility this morning is not to make a presentation on any of the thematic areas listed on the programme. Tasks have already been assigned to presenters, moderated by National Commissioners. I urge you to listen attentively to the presentations and, most importantly, contribute to discussions in a solution-oriented manner.

9. I cannot conclude my remarks without expressing the Commission’s deepest appreciation to the Development Associates Inc. (DAI) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) for supporting this retreat in particular and many other activities of the Commission in general. The presence and goodwill messages of the DAI Team Leader Mr. Rudolf Elbling and the IFES Country Director Seray Jay is a further affirmation of their commitment to transparent and inclusive electoral process in Nigeria. We wish to reassure you that INEC remains committed to these ideals just as we are determined to continue to push the boundaries of credible and inclusive elections in Nigeria.

10. It is now my honour to declare this retreat open.

11. Thank you and God bless.

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