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New currency: NASS, INEC admit threat to general elections



New currency: NASS, INEC admit threat to general elections

National Assembly and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC on Wednesday declared that the current violence in many parts of the country, caused by the bad implementation of the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has become a major threat to the forthcoming general elections.

The two institutions and other stakeholders expressed the fear at a one- day public hearing organised by the National Assembly joint Committee on INEC and Electoral Matters.

Specifically, INEC said the unending attacks on its facilities in some parts of the country have become a serious issue to the smooth conduct of elections.

In his remarks, a member of the committee, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central), said going by the problem of acute naira scarcity being faced by Nigerians, the CBN is the most outstanding threat to the elections.

He said the plan of selectivity of cash withdrawal INEC worked out with the CBN on Tuesday, was not assuring as far as smooth conduct of the elections was concerned.

He said: “The CBN told us at the beginning of the policy that the targets were the so-called moneybags who stashed away billions in their closets. We thought those at the people they want to get at.

“We are now seeing that it is the ordinary man on the streets suffering. They are sleeping in the banking hall because they cannot have access to the little money they have. We must understand the political economy of an electoral process.

“People are thinking of the money politicians would spend on vote buying, they don’t know that political parties would also mobilise people to all the polling units as agents, just like the INEC would mobilise personnel also.

“Today, the CBN is assuring Nigerians that it would provide money for INEC if they need more money.

“Are we saying that INEC must rely on the intervention of the CBN for it to perform?

“If the police run into logistics problems, they would also run to CBN for selective intervention.

“We are fighting Boko Haram, so if the military authorities could not access funds from their banks, they will also need to approach the CBN for selective intervention.

New currency: NASS, INEC admit threat to general elections

“These are issues and as a stakeholder, the CBN is the most outstanding threat to these elections holding as scheduled.

“The INEC should do it’s best. When the political class appear to have hold the nation to ransom as it appear now, it is the judiciary that will have to stand up and save the nation from the jugular of the political class.

“There is definitely, a cabal that does not want this election to hold but let us remind them those who call themselves the cabal, under President Olusegun Obasanjo they became irrelevant after that. Ditto for those who constituted themselves as cabal under late President Umaru Yar’Adua and President Goodluck Jonathan.

“The current situation shall also past.The nation is at a crossroads and all stakeholders must stand up in defence of our democracy.”

In her own submission, the representative of INEC chairman, Mrs May Agbamuche said the persistent violence could affect the credibility of the elections especially if the attacks were targeted at INEC facilities.

“With the general elections at hand, it is important to remind you all of the Commission’s commitment to free, fair and credible elections.

“Our preparation is however fraught with challenges. There is no doubt that violence and threat of violence are major challenges to credible election im 2023.

“Violence makes deployment for elections difficult particularly where some of the attacks are targeted at INEC facilities the electoral process and participants.

“However, the Commission has 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 Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).

“In all, we feel assured by the actions we have taken and our collaboration with the security agencies.

“The 2023 general elections will proceed as planned. There is no plan to postpone the election,”. she assured.

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