Less than 100 days to the 2023 general election, the Independent National Electoral Commission has said that it will print a total of 187million ballot papers.
This was made known by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye on Friday.
The Commission had said that preliminary registered voters in Nigeria now stand at 93.5 million, noting that 9,518,188 new voters were added to the existing register of 84,004,084 voters.
Okoye who spoke at a Roundtable with Bureau Chiefs/ Editors in Abuja said 93.5 million ballot papers will be used on the 25 February 2022 for the presidential election and the remaining 93.5million ballot papers will be for run off of the presidential election in a case where there is no clear winner. The same, he said, would be applicable to states.
The National Commissioner argued that the Commission decided to print 187 million ballot papers for the presidential elections, as it will be difficult to engage printers at a short notice and also the issue of logistics.
Okoye said, “As of today, 18 political parties will participate in the 2023 general election and the law has outlined how candidates will emerge and how a presidential candidate will emerge in Nigeria. Because of the limited time on the Commission and by the law; in case a candidate does not emerge from the first ballot, the Commission prints ballots for run-off elections (second election) when we are printing ballots for the main election. In other words, if 93million Nigerians are on the ballot for the presidential election, we will print 93million ballots for the first election and at the same time, print 93million ballots for the run-off election in case a winner does not emerge from the first ballot.
“If at the end of the day, there is no runoff, when election petitions are disposed of, the Commission will destroy the 93million ballots printed for the runoff. This is because the law gives the Commission just 21 days within each to engage in reverse logistics and conduct a runoff election in case there is no winner.
Moreover, as of the time of the conduct of the Presidential election, the governorship elections and State Assembly elections are still pending. So for the governorship election, the Commission will print at least run-off ballots for four governorship elections in case we have challenges in terms of a winner not emerging in the first ballot in some of the states of the federation.
Explaining how a president emerges and the conditions that may necessitate a second election, Okoye said “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 can be 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 and must also secure a quarter of the votes cast in two-thirds of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory. It 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. Not all candidates are going to participate in this second election. 18 candidates will be on the ballot for the first election. If no candidate emerges from the first ballot, only two candidates will contest in the second election.
The constitution has made it very clear that two candidates will be on the ballot one amongst the candidates who scored the highest number of votes at the election. The second candidate that will be on the ballot will be; one of the remaining candidates who have a majority of votes in the highest number of states. The constitution did not say that one who came second will be in the second election.
“The Commission is prepared for the second election if the situation arises taking into consideration the fact that it will be difficult to engage in reverse logistics and then begin to look for printers to print 93million ballots before we start thinking of how to move them to the states, local governments, wards, and polling units.
“We will print a ballot for the main election and a ballot for the runoff election at the same time. That is what the Commission will do.”