Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, revealed on Tuesday that 530,538 security personnel would be used in the upcoming general election.
He added that 11 out of the 14 actions in its timeframes for the exercise had been completed, and that the commission needed 1,265,227 foreign personnel prior to the 2023 elections.
Police officers and members of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps would be among the security personnel manning the voting booths.
This is as the Senate said the electoral body had no excuse as far as the required credibility of the coming general elections was concerned because the upper chamber had met all the requirements of the commission.
But speaking at the Chatham House, London, United Kingdom, the INEC chairman in his presentation titled, ‘Nigeria’s 2023 Elections: Preparations and Priorities for Electoral Integrity and Inclusion,’ allayed fears, stressing that the election would be held as scheduled.
To this end, he disclosed that 707,384 presiding officials and 17,685 supervisory presiding officers and 9,620 collation/returning officers would take charge of the polling units, totalling 1,265,227.
Yakubu stated, “For the 2023 general elections, the commission requires at least 707,384 presiding and assistant presiding officers, about 17,685 supervisory presiding officers, 9,620 collation/returning officers as well as 530,538 polling unit security officials, making a total of 1,265,227.
“These are not staff of the commission and must be painstakingly recruited and trained to ensure that they are both fit-for-purpose and non-partisan.
“However, the greatest number of election officials in Nigeria are these temporary or ad hoc staff recruited principally from among young Nigerian university and polytechnic graduates enrolled in the mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps, students of tertiary institutions, staff of federal agencies and university lecturers. Preparing them adequately for their roles as polling officials, supervisors and result managers is central to a successful election.’’
Speaking further, the INEC boss said issues such as the security challenge and attacks on its assets were beyond the commission’s powers, noting, however, that it was tackling vote-buying or voter bribery by political parties and candidates.
Yakubu observed that the insecurity across the country posed a major security threat to credible elections, adding that violence made deployment for elections difficult, particularly where some of the attacks were targeted at the electoral process and participants.
The commission assured that it had 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 ICCES and we also have the Election Violence Mitigation and Advocacy Tool, which is a research and diagnostic tool for predicting and mitigating election violence before elections. In addition, there is the Election Risk Management Tool, which tracks and reports general risks to elections.