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2022: So many deadlines to meet, plethora of stress too

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YEARS run on usual calendar course but election years seem to come with peculiar convolutions that challenge natural sequence and keep elements on unusual motion.

  In nine days, the year 2022 will roll-by and 2023 steps-in with its prospects and possibilities. Akin to every election year,  2022 arguably raced on sprint  course, keeping the country on her toes, as she hurdles through tough socio-political and socio-economic paths.

  Taking off from where the electoral amendment reform ended in 2021, the year saw the bill pass through different stages and eventually became an Act with the appending of President Muhammadu Buhari’s signature on Thursday, February 24. Coming on the heels of the new electoral law was another round of Continuous Voter Registration exercise with a deadline mandate of June 30, 2022. The number of citizens that came out for the exercise could not be captured within the allotted time frame, thus, prompting the House of Representatives to call for an extension by 60 days. It eventually ended on July 31, with 12 million Nigerians registered, according to INEC report.       The year threw up another unexpected when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), announced a new monetary policy that saw the naira redesigned. The N200, N500 and N1000 respectively, were redesigned with a mandate to have it circulation from December 15, 2022. A deadline of January 31, 2023 was given to the existing naira, after which it will no more be recognized as a legal tender.

One significant thing about the year to Nigerians is realisation of the critical trajectory that any political decision taken, will impact on all citizenry in the next four years, beginning with 2023.

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While political conversations tilt towards 2023, developments that ultimately shape the year rest much on  2022 activities; part of this is the successful conducts of primary elections  across party lines; thereby, giving the February 2023 presidential election clearer perspective. Nigerian electorate can be said to go into the 2023 general elections with their preferred candidates tucked in the mind based on personal convictions.

Highpoint of intrigues that characterised the primaries could be sifted from the emergence of third force in the political space. The Labour Party (LP) bounced from obscurity to dominate the climes earlier controlled by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party and main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

The big factor that redefined the fulcrum of the political swings remains internal crises amongst the frontline parties. The ruling party lurched itself into the centre of the rumpus with a Muslim-Muslim ticket for all Nigerians to  embrace willy-nilly,  while PDP  got stuck in national chairmanship tussle that tore the party’s unity to shreds, even as election year sets-in. The dust raised by political decisions of these parties may not settle until the presidential election is won and lost in February 2023.

The milestone of the 2023 election success will arguably be extracted from resort to electronically driven exercise, spearheaded by the Bimodal Identification Verification Accreditation System (BIVAS). Election riggers are already showing signs of capitulation and now weighing options, including vote-buying. Shockingly, impediments from the current Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) monetary policy, starting with re-designing of the naira, to limiting weekly withdrawals may turn the last strokes that will definitely shatter the camel’s horn for those who penchants are deeply rooted in cutting corners.

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More to the positives of 2022 political process is the jurisdictional limitation of pre-election proceedings which sets the Federal High Court as the terminal jurisdiction for pre-election cases, as contained in Section 84, of the Electoral Amendment Act 14, which clearly confers on the Federal High Court the right. Prior to the revision of the Act, Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act of 2010  gave the Federal High Court, State High Court, and High Court of the Federal Capital Territory concurrent authority over federal and state pre-election issues. The country is going into 2023 elections with every assurance that over stretched electoral litigations will no more be the norm.

Anambra’s part in the electoral narratives of 2022 puts her on spotlight as she smoothly passed through guber elections to inaugurate the current governor of the state, Professor Chukwuma Soludo on March 17 , 2022. Discerning minds had since begun to envision more political feats to come. Little wonder Peter Obi -son of Mother Anambra, became an instant movement, after quitting the PDP.  He revved up political force, novel in the country’s history, shaking the frontline parties to their marrows with the flag of a relatively unpopular party – Labour Party (LP) and giving political pundits much to speculate in the 2023 presidential permutations.

Arguably, all eyes are already on the polling arena, even when not less than 65 days stand between the people and the exercise. The beauty of the moment is INEC’s commitment to ensuring that the election holds, no matter opposing forces.

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Going by INEC’s Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye’s position, during a media discussion on Sunday, December 18, 2022,   the electoral body admitted not having any acceptable reason to postpone or reschedule the elections. Mr Okoye who affirmed INEC’s preparednes to conduct free, fair, transparent, and inclusive elections, assured that satisfying Nigerians’ yearning for excellent election ever conducted, in line with the commission’s National Chairman, Yakubu Mahmoud, remains their focal point. “Unlike what happened in 2019, the 2023 elections will rekindle hopes in the country’s electoral system.”

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