Posted by Yinka Aderibigbe | 3 February 2019 | 659 times
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has allayed the fears of Nigerians and assured of its readiness to conduct free, fair and transparent elections, beginning with the Presidential election on Feb 16, 2019.
Speaking with media executives on the preparations ahead of the coming Presidential, National Assembly, governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections, in Lagos, on Saturday, the National Electoral Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter education Mr Festus Okoye, said a total of 84,004,084 million Nigerians, have been registered to participate in this year’s election which will feature 91 registered political parties.
According to him, the elections would take place in 1,558 constituencies and 774 local government areas, and results collation in 8,809 registration areas/wards, in 119,973 polling units and 57, 023 voting points nationwide.
Okoye said a total of 73 candidates had been cleared to contest the presidential election, while the governorship election will be contested by a total of 1,068 candidates in 29 states of the federation. The 109 senate seats will be contested by 1,904 candidates, while 4, 680 candidates will jostle for the 360 seats in the House of Representatives.
The 991 state constituency elections will have 14,583 contestants, while 806 candidates would be jostling for the 68 area council seats in the Federal Capital Territory.
Okoye said INEC will be recruiting 17,618 senior academic staff of the various federal universities in Nigeria, to serve as collation and returning officers, as the commission, he said, have decided to have two collation officers or each of the 8,809 centres to facilitate timely collation of results.
These returning officers, according to Okoye, would be assisted by 814,453 ad-hoc staff, made up of National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, and in some cases final year students in federal universities, who are currently being trained across all the states of the federation.
For logistics, the commission, Okoye disclosed has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Transport Workers Union, whose members are going to be deployed nationwide to deploy and retrieve election personnel and materials on the days of elections. He added that all the vehicles to be involved in the exercise across the states would be certified by the federal Roads Safety Corps (FRSC), and all would have tracking devise installed by the commission, to ensure the safety of all personnel and electoral materials.
The National Commissioner said Nigerians who are yet to collect their permanent voters cards have up to Feb 8, to do so at the local government offices of the commission nationwide, adding that all uncollected PVCs would thereafter be withdrawn for safekeeping pending the conclusion of the two strands of elections in the electoral calendar this year.
Okoye said; “All the state offices and local government offices of the commission have taken delivery of the non-sensitive materials for the conduct of the elections, while the various branches of the Central banks of Nigeria are presently receiving sensitive materials for the conduct of the elections.”
He said the commission has accredited a total of 116 domestic and 28 foreign election observers for the 2019 elections, while the commission’s chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu on January 12, 2019, have signed the regulations and guidelines for the election.
Okoye disclosed that among other innovations, the commission has enhanced the smart card readers, eliminated the use of incident forms, and has introduced the use of Braille jackets, magnifying glasses and assistive posters for persons living with disability, while it is also working on appropriate framework for internally displaced persons voting.
Among other challenges listed by Okoye as confronting the commission this year are conflicting court orders arising from party primary elections, the number of political parties participating in the general elections, the size of the ballot papers, the management of polling units and the number of party agents and accredited local and foreign observers at each of the elections.
He charged the media to collaborate with the commission in fighting the scourge of vote buying which is becoming a major issue, disclosing that the commission may be coming up with a number of innovations to nip the menace in the bud in the election.
“We at Independent National Electoral Commission do not sell or buy votes, we are not in the business of midwifing or husbanding the votes. That is why we are calling on the media to help sensitise Nigerians to stop acts that would undermine the electoral process,” he added.
Okoye assured Nigerians that the commission is determined to make the votes of all Nigerians count. “The commission would continue to conduct its activities in total obedience to the rule of law and due process,” Okoye stated.
•Sourced from The Nation report
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