The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will not compromise the security of its staff and members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to be deployed for Anambra Governorship Election.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated this while speaking during a one-day forum on “Inclusive Electoral in Anambra State and Beyond” on Wednesday in Abuja organised by INEC Press Corps.
Yakubu represented by National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said the commission was prepared for the election.
He appealed to all critical stakeholders to rally round the commission and give their maximum cooperation towards successful conduct of the election.
“The commission needs a safe and secure environment for efficient and professional deployment of staff and materials.
“We must realise that young men and women doing their National Youth Service form the bulk of our Presiding Officers.
“Some of them are the only sons and daughters of their parents. Some of them graduated from school through determined perseverance in the face of hardship.
“Some of them are the products of community effort while some of them did menial jobs to graduate.
“We, therefore, have a responsibility to protect them in the performance of this national assignment.
“No form of insurance can cover for the loss of one life and the Commission will on no account compromise on the safety and welfare of these individuals and all other staff that will be deployed for the election,” Yakubu said.
He said that INEC was fully aware of the fluid security situation in Anambra and different parts of the country.
Yakubu also said that INEC would continue to work with the Inter Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security at the national, state and local government levels towards securing the electoral environment.
He said that voters must be assured of their security and must feel confident approaching the polling units to exercise their democratic franchise.
“We must also realise that the responsibility of the commission is to organise, undertake and supervise elections within the context and ambit of the Constitution.
“Section 178 of the Constitution has circumscribed the period for the conduct of governorship elections and this period is cast in stone and immovable.
“We must do all that is constitutionally and legally possible to avoid the constitutional challenge that may likely ensue in the State if the commission is unable to conduct elections on account of security challenges.
“ On our part, we are determined to conduct a good election in Anambra and in other parts of Nigeria. We shall not compromise on the conduct of a good election in any part of Nigeria,” Yakubu said.
He warned those engaged in identity theft to steer clear of Anambra election as the commission would deploy relevant and appropriate technology including Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for the accreditation of voters.
He said “The bimodal accreditation system will use fingerprints or facials for efficient voter accreditation.
“Therefore, those engaged in identity theft must steer clear of the polling units in Anambra State as only voters that are properly authenticated using their fingerprints or facials will be allowed to vote.”
Yakubu added that the commission would also use its new technological device to upload polling unit level results to its central result viewing portal.
“Nigerians that have access to internet facilities can log in and view the results as they are being uploaded. For this, we have commenced elaborate voter education and publicity activities in the State,” he said.
He assured that INEC was determined to conduct a good election in Anambra State and all its processes and procedures are geared at achieving that objective.
“We assure the people of Anambra State and indeed all Nigerians that the votes of the people will be the only determinant of leadership succession in Anambra State,” he said.
Yakubu disclosed that out of the 14 items listed in the timetable and schedule of activities, for the election, INEC had implemented eight.
He added that Anambra had a total of 21 local governments, 326 registration areas (Wards), 5,720 polling units and 2,447,996 registered voters.
“The number of registered voters will definitely increase with the end of the first phase of the Continuous Voter Registration Exercise and the display of the said Register for claims and objections.
“Based on the figure of completed registrations released by the commission on September 20, a total of 138, 795 registrants completed their registration and this figure may decrease after the cleanup of the register,” he said.
Yakubu disclosed that INEC would on October 4 open its online media accreditation portal and close on Tuesday October 26, adding that only accredited media organisations would be allowed to cover the election.
The Chairman of INEC Press Corps, Mr Segun Ojumu, commended INEC for the innovations it had brought into the electoral process,
Ojumu however said that more could be done to ensure that people with disabilities or people with albinism who have peculiar needs are well catered for.
He stated that from the report of the World Health Organisation in 2018, about 29 million of the 195 million of Nigeria’s population were living with disabilities.
“We are well aware of the needs of our friends from the Inclusive Friends Association.
“We use this forum to urge INEC to provide sign language interpreters at polling units and registration centres for state governorship election and future elections.
“We are also looking forward to a time when polling units become more accessible to PWDs.
“If we achieve greater inclusion in the electoral process, the challenge of apathy will be addressed as far as this category of voters is concerned,” he added.
The Founder of the Abino Foundation, Mr Jake Epelle, commended INEC for it efforts on ensuring inclusivity, saying ”it is only INEC I know that has been expressively inclusive.”
Epelle urged the media to emulate INEC in ensuring that people living with disabilities were given inclusive reports.