Sola Ojo, Kaduna
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday said the Commission was ready to conduct the governorship election in Edo State this Saturday.
INEC’s Commissioner (Information), Barrister Festus Okoye, who stated this while featuring on Arise Television morning show monitored in Kaduna also said that all COVID-19 safety protocol would be followed quickly added that, nobody will be allowed to vote without a facemask.
Explaining the readiness of the Commission Okoye said, 12 out of 14 items on the Commission’s agenda for the election have been executed while the remaining two, which are end of the campaigns and election itself are close to realisation.
“Part of the 14 items we have include nomination of candidates by political parties which has been concluded. We have published names and particulars of all the candidates in Edo State. Political parties have also nominated their polling agents. There have been claims and injection relating to candidates. The only two items remaining are the end of the campaign and the election itself. We don’t have challenges with any of our items”, he said.
To Okoye, the Commission was ready to conduct a free, fair and credible election in Edo state if all stakeholders which include security agencies, political parties and their candidates, civil society organisations, religious bodies, media among others play their role creditably well.
He explained, “by tomorrow (Tuesday), candidates and political parties will sign a peace accord that will be superintended by the former military head of state, Abdulsalam Abubakar, Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Kukah and Inspector General of Police.
“All our non-sensitive materials have been deployed to various local governments while sensitive materials will be in Edo state any moment from now. We are very ready. We have deployed additional resources in terms of residence electoral commissioners to assist electoral commissioner for Edo State in the conduct of this election.
“As an electoral management body, we believe that conduct of free, fair and transparent elections is a multi-stakeholders venture. No single agency, no single entity no single commission can do it alone. So, in this regard, we have had a dialogue with the interagency committee on election security to make sure that we don’t have any challenge in terms of deployment of security for this particular election.
“People must be assured that they can come out and vote. We are also in talks with political parties to tone down their rhetorics, eschew violence and allow people to be the only determinant of who gets elected and who don’t”.
He continued, “there are concerns relating to violence. There are also concerns relating to what political parties are doing. There are also concerns relating to security deployments. But, all these things are taken on board and we are meeting, consulting with security agencies to ensure that people can come out and they come out in safety.
“Prior this time, one of the concerns people have raised with regards to the credibility of the election process is when the results move from voting to collation centre.
“We have a mechanism that we believe it will help in the transparency of the election collation so Nigerian can have confidence in the final outcome of the election”.
On COVID-19 he said, “we have made it very clear that every voter must wear a facemask. Anybody who is not wearing a facemask or a face covering will not be allowed to vote.
“In conjunction with the presidential task forced on COVID-19, we have procured infrared thermometers for all the polling units. So, we are going to measure the temperature of all the voters on Election Day. The issue of social distancing will also be intensified. We are not going to allow a single person to jeopardise the health of other voters or our officials”, Okoye said.