GOVERNANCE - 16 JAN 2023

2023 election timetable and schedule of activities

2023 election timetable and schedule of activities
2023 election time table

Election activities are often identified by cycles.

From races for the United States House of Representatives (every two years) to contests for United Nations Secretary-General (every five years), these activities and cycles help prepare aspiring candidates and their parties for the respective elections.

While Nigeria elects a governor yearly because of off-cycle elections, the general elections are highlighted by the presidential and national legislative elections that occur every four years.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) determines the election timetable that guides the conduct of these polls.

With the 2023 elections just around the corner, below is the INEC election timetable and schedule of activities:

Timetable and schedule of 2023 elections

 

S/N

Activity

Date

1

Publication of notice of election.

28th February 2022.

2

Collection of relevant forms for the election by political parties from INEC website.

1st March 2022.

3

Conduct of Party Primaries, including resolution of disputes arising from the Primaries.

Commencement date (4th April 2022). End (3rd June 2022).

4

Submission of relevant forms online (Nomination Portal).

Presidential & National Assembly: 9.00 am 10th June 2022 & 6.00 pm 17th June 2022.

Governorship & State Houses of Assembly 9.00 am 1st July 2022 & 6.00 pm 15th July 2022.

5

Publication of Personal Particulars of candidates (EC9) by the Commission.

Presidential & National Assembly 24th June 2022.

Governorship & State Houses of Assembly 22nd July 2022.

6

Last day for withdrawal by candidate(s)/replacement of withdrawn candidate(s) by Political Parties.

Presidential & National Assembly 15th July 2022.

Governorship & State Houses of Assembly 12th August 2022.

7

Last day for submission of Nomination forms by

political parties.

Presidential & National Assembly 8th August 2022.

 

Governorship & State Houses of Assembly 18th August 2022.

8

Publication of final list of nominated candidates by the Commission.

Presidential & National Assembly 20th September 2022.

Governorship & State Houses of Assembly 4th October 2022.

9

Commencement of campaign by Political Parties in public.

Presidential & National Assembly 28th September 2022.

Governorship & State Houses of Assembly 12th October 2022.

10

Last day for submission of names of Polling Agents for the Election to the Electoral Officer of the Local Government Area by political parties through the Commission’s dedicated portal.

Presidential & National Assembly 30th December 2022.

Governorship & State Houses of Assembly 6th January 2023

11

Publication of official Register of Voters for the election by the Commission.

12th January 2023.

12

Publication of Notice of Poll by the Commission.

30th January 2023.

13

Last day for campaigns by Political Parties.

Presidential & National

Assembly 23rd February 2023.

Governorship & State Houses of Assembly 9th March 2023.

14

Date of Election

Presidential & National Assembly 25th February 2023.

Governorship & State Houses of Assembly 11th March 2023.

 

How are election dates defined?

INEC’s timetable is determined by the provisions and timelines set by the electoral act, the legal instrument that governs the conduct of an election, as well as guidelines that the commission issues in accordance with the powers the constitution grants it.

INEC originally set the dates for the 2023 general elections for 18 February 2023 but had to revise them in accordance with Section 28(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, which states that INEC must issue the notice of election not later than 360 days before the election date. As a result, Nigerians will go to the polls on Saturday, 25th February 2023, to elect a president and national assembly. Then, on Saturday, 11th March 2023, elect governors in 28 states and state house of assembly members. 

This procedure also addresses questions about the order of elections. Nigeria’s elections now begin with the national (president and national assembly) before moving to states (governorship and state assembly), but previous elections were ordered in reverse.

This new policy ensures that governments cannot unilaterally alter the arrangement for a more convenient purpose.
 

History of electoral laws on election dates

Expectedly, elections have been held to match the proposed inauguration date. During the Second Republic (1979 - 1983), presidential inaugurations were held on 1 October—the country’s independence day—which added another dimension to the day's importance. It is why the 1979 elections were held on 11 August 1979, to allow for transition preparations ahead of the deadline. The next presidential election was held on 6 August 1983, keeping within the established timeline. 

The aborted Third Republic (1993) saw an interesting staggered timeline. Governors and state legislators were elected in December 1991 and took office in January 1992, while national legislators were elected on 4 July 1992 and took office on 5 December 1992.  Finally, the presidential elections took place on 12 June 1993, which would have seen the winner take office on 27 August 1993. If the Third Republic was not aborted, there might have been a series of proposals or amendments to align these different sets of elections. 

The Fourth Republic (1999 - present) held presidential elections on 27 February 1999, perhaps to ensure a lengthier transition would help iron out any kinks before the 29 May handover date. National assembly elections happened a week earlier, on 20 February, while governorship elections took place on 9 January of the same year. The elections were also guided by the Constitutional guidelines for an election to the presidency (Section 132 (1-2) and governorship (Section 178 (1-2) that the elections had to be held not earlier than sixty days and not later than thirty days before the expiration of the term of office.

Ahead of the 2003 elections, the first organised by a civilian government since 1983, the electoral management body announced that it would hold the elections in April, with provisions for run-offs if no candidate made the necessary requirements.

In accordance with the constitution, the 2007 elections were also conducted on 14 April (governorship) and 21 April (presidency). Likewise, the 2011 elections were also held in April, with national legislators elected on the 9th, the president on the 16th and state governors and legislators on the 26th. Subsequent amendments later extended the provision to hold elections not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days to the end of the incumbent’s tenure.

Ahead of the 2015 elections, and with allowance to some of the reforms put forward by a committee led by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Muhammadu Uwais, INEC was empowered to determine the dates as long as it was held not later than thirty days before the end of office.  The elections that year were held on 28 March, with polling extended in some areas to the next day.

In 2017, INEC announced that the presidential and national assembly elections would be held on the third Saturday in February of an election year, while the state governorship and assembly elections would follow two weeks later. These dates have guided the dates set for 2019 and 2023, albeit with allowance for potential postponements.
 

What activities are important in the lead-up to an election?

Besides the election date, other key milestones must be accommodated in the run-up to an election. It starts with the notice of the election, which Section 28 (1) of the Electoral Act states must be done at least a year before the election.

The other provisions are determined by INEC, which include the period for the conduct of party primaries, registration of candidates, and the potential withdrawal of candidates and replacement by their parties. Section 94 (1) of the Electoral Act also determines the length of the campaign period—between 150 days before the election day and close 24 hours to polls opening. The last major part of the timetable involves the publication of the official register of voters, which must be done at least 30 days before the election.
 

Where else?

● What is an electoral act? – We explained the legal and constitutional backing behind an Electoral Act

Why does INEC have to close the voter registration process? - We explained why Nigeria's voter registration process needs to close.

● Why political party ‘structure’ matters in Nigeria—Joachim MacEbong analyses the cost of carrying out successful campaigns in Nigeria.

● Follow Stears elections here to get personalised election updates, insights and results for races and candidates you care about.

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