INEC says no going back on 2019
• To Abide By What Courts Say On Rivers, Zamfara
• Confesses Large Number Of Parties Pose Serious Challenge
• Ballot Papers, Sensitive Materials Ready
• Vows Prompt Announcement Of Result Of Presidential Poll
With two weeks to the presidential and National Assembly polls, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it is ready with sensitive and non-sensitive election materials, while logistics have also been firmed up. On deployments, the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Festus Okoye explained that ballot papers for the election and other sensitive materials were ready, and currently being delivered to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) offices across the country to avoid hitches, noting that the materials would be taken to state and local government offices of the commission on the eve of the election.
He said: “The commission has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with transport workers unions for the deployment and retrieval of election personnel and materials in a safe and timely manner. Resident electoral commissioners have also met with the unions in the transport sector and are perfecting issues relating to deployment and retrieval of materials in conjunction with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).
“All the state offices and local government offices of the commission are taking delivery of non-sensitive materials. The commission has delivered the bulk of the non-sensitive materials required for the conduct of the elections to states and local governments, while the remaining are in the zonal stores of the commission and will be distributed at the appropriate time.
The electoral body however, lamented that it was encumbered by the unwieldy and large number of political parties on the ballot, and the size of ballot papers, while also informing that different court orders arising from party primary elections also constitute a potent threat to its operations.A total of 73 political parties will be participating in the February 16 presidential poll, and the commission pointed out that with this number, management of the polling units would be a Herculean task, considering the number of party agents, which the law permits their presence at polling units.
The national commissioner who made the revelation during an interactive session with media executives in Lagos, yesterday, explained that it has already taken its stand regarding the litigations arising from party primaries affecting the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers and Zamfara states, which is to obey the judiciary. Okoye assured that the commission would conduct the election based on legal and constitutional stipulations, adding that it would continue to conduct its activities in total obedience to the rule of law and due process.
“The issue of voting buying, reporting elections and election related matters are also part of the challenges. The media should name and shame vote sellers. This time around, the media will be given unlimited access to the polling units, they will not be restricted in terms of doing their work,” he said.
Okoye said the electoral umpire has introduced some new innovations for a free, fair and credible poll, which includes the enhancement of the smart card readers; elimination of incident forms; introducing the use of braille jackets, magnifying glasses and assistive posters for persons with disability; validation of framework and regulations for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) voting, and sensitisation/public enlightenment efforts.
“The 2019 general elections will involve the 91 registered political parties and a total registered voting population of 84, 004, 084. The election will take place in 1, 558 constituencies and 774 Local Government Area. The collation of results will take place in 8, 809 registration areas/wards and in 119, 973 polling units and 57, 023 voting points nationwide.
“The presidential election will be contested by a total of 73 candidates, while the governorship election will be contested by a total of 1, 068 candidates in 29 states. The 109 Senate seats would be contested by 1, 904 candidates, while the 360 seats in the House of Representatives will be contested by a total of 4, 680 candidates. The 991 state constituency elections will be contested by a total of 14, 583 candidates. The 68 area council seats in the Federal Capital Territory will be contested by 806 candidates,” Okoye said.
While denying allegation of plans to shutdown the Internet during the poll raised by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Okoye said INEC is not involved with anybody to carry out such act, emphasising that it will not transmit the 2019 elections electronically, but manually. “We want to be very transparent in this poll and we want all key stakeholders to know what INEC is doing. Our resolve is to make sure that the presidential election result is announced as soon as possible, that is one of the reasons for introducing two collation officers for each polling unit.”
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