The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured the international community that the electoral umpire would submit itself to the sanctity of votes cast by the Nigerian electorates ahead of the 2023 general elections.

This was stated by the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, on Monday in a meeting with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mahamat Saleh Annadif at the Commission headquarters in Abuja.

Yakubu applauded UNOWAS for assisting INEC during the conduct of elections in Nigeria.

He assured the team that his Commission would remain committed to a fair electoral process and ensure that elections “continue to get better and better and the democratic environment is increasingly consolidated.”

He said: “We are also happy that on our invitation, our working with the United Nations Office in Nigeria and the United Nations Development Programme, we invited a United Nations Needs Assessment Mission ahead of the 2023 general elections. And I am glad that His Excellency, the Secretary of the United Nations accepted our invitation and not too long ago sent a Need Assessment Mission.

“I also want to thank UNOWAS because each time we conduct an election you send a team to monitor and observe our election. I am sure 2023 is not going to be different.

“We are aware of the strategic importance of Nigeria in our sub-region and also our responsibility in ensuring that there is electoral and democratic stability in the sub-region. As you rightly pointed out, there are 15 countries in the sub-region. In order to show the importance of Nigeria in our democracy, as of today, we have 84 million registered voters but Nigeria is one out of 15 countries in the sub-region. But, the total number of registered voters in the other 14 countries put together, is 73 million, meaning that Nigeria has 11 million voters more than other countries in the sub-region put together.

“Each time Nigeria conducts a general election is like a general election in the whole of West Africa. So, we appreciate the enormous responsibility the Commission is charged with. The election is both national and international; we have very good working relationship with strategic partners and allies in the country, we work very closely with the political parties, civil society organisations, media, security agencies in the country but at the same time we also work closely with our friends in the international community such as UNOWAS. So whenever you come on this kind of mission, we feel fully encouraged to continue to do what we need to do for the peace and stability of our sub-region.

“So, I want to assure you that we will continue to do what is right on the basis of the law, the ultimate choice is going to be made by Nigerians. Nigerians will determine who they want in the 2023 general elections and we will continue to uphold the choice made by Nigerians.

“So I want to assure you that we will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that our election continue to get better and better and the democratic environment is increasingly consolidated. We look forward to seeing you again before and during the election.”