By Kayode Oyero
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Sunday cautioned political parties against the release of presidential and National Assembly election results, stressing that only the commission is “legally responsible” for the release of election results.
INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu made this known when he formally opened the 2023 presidential election collation centre at the International Conference Centre in Abuja.
“I appeal to all political parties and media organisations to draw their figures only from the official results released by the commission as the only body constitutionally responsible for releasing official election figures,” Yakubu emphasised.
Mahmood also said the collation of presidential election results will be done at four levels — first at the 8,889 wards, then at the 774 local government areas, then the state collation officers for the presidential election (SCOPs) at the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory will submit the votes per candidate to the national collation centre in Abuja.
The electoral chief said the collation centre will be open all day and all night with short breaks.
He also cautioned political parties to only draw their figures from INEC and announced that collation from states will resume by 6 pm when results from states would have arrived.
“As we await the arrival of the SCOPs, we will now take a break and resume at 6pm.
“We are certain that by 6pm, one or two of the SCOPs will arrive with the results. So, we begin the process of collation,” the INEC chief stated.
Elections for the office of the President, 360 House of Representatives and 109 Senatorial seats were held in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory on Saturday and Nigerians expect the declaration of results by the electoral umpire.
Though 18 candidates are in the race, pollsters and analysts have described the contest as a four-horse race between Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP).
While Obi and Tinubu are from the southern region of the country, Kwankwaso and Atiku come from the northern part of Nigeria. The four heavyweights and strong contenders have large followings with the numerical potential of emerging as the successor of President Muhammadu Buhari whose two-term tenure ends on May 29, 2023.
Elections were held at most of the 176,606 polling units in Nigeria as 87.2 million voters with Permanent Voter Cards voted for their preferred candidates.