The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured Nigerians that it does not have a preferred candidate for any office in the 2023 general election.

The commission said it will only ensure that winners are solely decided by the electorate.

It restated its neutrality in all elections to ensure that Nigerians have the leaders they freely elect during elections.

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, gave the assurance at the fourth Abubakar Momoh Memorial Lecture with the theme: Electoral Act 2022: Imperatives for Political Parties and the 2023 General Election.

Yakubu, who was represented by the Board Chairman of The Electoral Institute (TEI), Prof. Abdullahi Abdu Zuru, said: “You may recall that on February 25, 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the 2022 Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law. The 2022 Electoral Act (“the new Act”) repeals the Electoral Act Number 6, 2010 (“the former Act”) and is intended to bring innovations to the processes and procedures for the conduct of elections in line with the mandate of the commission.

“As the 2023 general election draws near, it is imperative for all stakeholders, especially the political parties, to note the major features introduced by the new Electoral Act 2022 and the possible implications of these changes on the upcoming elections: the happenings that accompanied the recent party primaries attest to this…”

Also, the Federal Government has assured Nigerians that the 2023 general election is not being threatened by insecurity.

Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed gave the assurance while addressing State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday in Abuja.

He said: “I think the beauty of democracy is that everybody who has an opinion is free to air such an opinion and government will weigh the opinions and take whatever decisions they might determine to be in the best interest of the country.

“…Given the state of insecurity in the country, that there can’t be elections. I can assure you there will be elections because the Federal Government will do everything possible, not just to make sure there is election, but to secure the country.

“These new initiatives, as contained in the law, served as the bedrock for the reviewed Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections 2022 released by the commission on May 24, 2022. This, in turn, dictated the review of the Manual for Election Officials, 2022.”

He added: “Let me draw your attention to the fact that the use of electronic devices, such as the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS), INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED), INEC Results Viewing Portal (IRev) and other technological devices, are now legally allowed in the accreditation process for voters, collation of results and in the general conduct of elections.”

“Please, be assured that these innovations are intended to deepen the electoral process in our country and their optimal performance in the just concluded governorship election in Ekiti and Osun states is an eloquent testimony to their electoral value. We shall only do more to consolidate their deployment in our election.

“Once again, I wish to assure you that INEC has no preferred party or candidate. We shall only ensure that all valid votes count and the winners are decided solely by the voters.”

Also, the Federal Government has assured Nigerians that the 2023 general election is not being threatened by insecurity.

Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed gave the assurance while addressing State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday in Abuja.

He said: “I think the beauty of democracy is that everybody who has an opinion is free to air such an opinion and government will weigh the opinions and take whatever decisions they might determine to be in the best interest of the country.

“Yes, it is true that some groups have been worried and concerned, given the state of insecurity in the country, that there can’t be elections. I can assure you there will be elections because the Federal Government will do everything possible, not just to make sure there is election, but to secure the country.

“I’m sure you heard yesterday (Wednesday) from the President that the commanders have been given everything they need and they’ve been given all the powers they need to bring this insurgency and this banditry to an end.

“As for the issue of whether the service chiefs should resign or not, I think only the appointor can make such a decision. I want to tell you that the service chiefs are doing their best in the circumstances and they’ll continue to do their best.”