By Folorunso Alagbede, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has commenced training of political party officials on the use of the redesigned INEC’s candidate nomination portal (ICNP) in preparation for the 2023 general election.
The candidate nomination portal is one of the technological innovations introduced by the Commission in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce physical interactions and automate its processes.
Declaring open the 4-day training workshop for officials of political parties on the use of the ICNP organised with support from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) holding in Abuja from yesterday, Chairperson of the Legal Services, Clearance and Complaints Committee (LSC&CC), Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu, noted that “the ICNP has been in use since the 2020 Edo and Ondo State Governorship elections.”
She explained that the new provisions in the Electoral Act (2022), which made provision for several technological innovations, has additionally given the Commission a general discretion to apply technology as it sees fit.
The National Commissioner disclosed that the portal was recently redesigned to accommodate the greater demands of a wider, general election nomination process.
According to the Chairperson LSC and CC, “this training is of utmost importance to political parties as it will enlighten them on the guidelines for nomination of candidates and the new procedure of the ICNP bearing in mind that political parties will be submitting forms on the portal in respect of candidates they intend to sponsor for the various offices in One Thousand, Four Hundred and Ninety-Nine (1, 499) constituencies in Nigeria.”
On the expected outcome of the training, Mrs. Agbamuche-Mbu, said “It is expected that at the conclusion of this training, political parties would have gained extensive knowledge on the new nomination process for the 2023 General Election, demonstrate practical knowledge on how to make submissions on the portal and be equipped with the approved Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates for Elections”.
In his welcome address, the Director, ICT, Engr. Chidi Nwafor, recognised the important role of the participants, who he said, were responsible for uploading the Nominations of Candidates in the off season elections since the introduction of the portal in 2020.
The ICT Director further explained that the INEC Candidate Nomination Portal (ICNP) to be used for the 2023 general election would be 90 percent automated, a movement from the semi automated process previously used.
Engr. Chidi added that the Commission in its determination to continue to improve the use of technology in the management of elections, has decided to use indigenous content and capacity sourced within Nigeria.
He implored the participants, who are mostly IT professionals from the political parties, to continue to work with the Commission to improve the system, and expressed the hope that a lot would be achieved as they were going to be engaged in practical hands-on training for the next 3 days.
In a goodwill message, the Country Director, IFES, Seray Jah, represented by the Deputy Country Director, Obaje Ukeh, commended INEC for putting together the training with IFES’s support, stating that “we believe will better equip the political parties representatives with the knowledge and skills to effectively and efficiently utilize the candidate nomination portal.”
The Country Director added that “this process we believe will further address some of the challenges witnessed in the past and the demands of evolving technology. The redesign of the ICNP (nomination portal) is anticipated to meet up with the demands of the forthcoming 2023 general election and better streamline the candidates’ submission process”.
“The redesigned portal and the training today further enhance the nomination process for the 2023 general election and highlights INEC’s willingness and commitment to the deployment of technology to improve the conduct of elections in Nigeria. IFES is delighted to be supporting the process”, he added.
Two National Commissioners who are members of the LSC&CC , Major General Modibbo Alkali (Rtd) and Prof. Sani M. Adam (SAN) were also at the training.