The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has said that collection of the Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs is still ongoing as it advised those yet to pick their cards to visit the Commissions ofices in their respective Local Government areas.
The Commission however, said it will suspend the collection of Cards on the 8th of February after which it will recall all uncollected PVC’s for safekeeping pending the conclusion of the two strands of elections in the electoral calendar.
Speaking on the level of preparedness of the Commission towards conducting free, fair and inclusive elections during an interactive session with the media executives in Lagos at the weekend, Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and chairman Information and Voter Education at INEC, said it has identified and has started recruiting Collation and Retuning Officers from senior academic staff of various federal universities in Nigeria, to ensure effective elections management.
He said that based on the number of registered Political Parties participating in the elections, the Commission will recruit two collation officers each for the 8, 809 Registration Areas to facilitate timely collation of results.
According to Okoye, 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 Areas. 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, he confirmed.
The chairman also reaffirmed that 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 of the Federation.
He further disclosed that the 109 Senate seats will 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”, he said.
The Commission, he informed will conduct Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, where 806 candidates have been cleared to contest the election, which involves 105 Chairmanship candidates and 701 Councillorship candidates.
Meanwhile, the Commission has concluded the identification and recruitment of over 814,453 ad- hoc staff for the election.
The recruited ad-hoc staff members have commenced training in all the States of the Federation, under the supervision of Resident Electoral Commissioners.
Okoye, expressed confidence that the Commission will recruit the required number of ad-hoc staff for all the strands of elections.
Also, 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.
To properly put adequate logistics in place, the Resident Electoral Commissioners have 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 Commission.
He also, disclosed that all the State Offices and Local Government Offices of the Commission are taking delivery of non-sensitive materials.
According to the chairman, The Commission has delivered the bulk of the non-sensitive materials required for the conduct of the elections to the States and the Local Governments while the remaining are in the zonal stores of the Commission and will be distributed at the appropriate time, while all various branches of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, are presently receiving sensitive materials for the conduct of the 2019 elections.
The Commission, he also siad has released the Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of the 2019 elections, which the INEC chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu signed on the 12th day of January 2019.
Similarly, the Commission has accredited a total of 116 domestic election observers and 28 foreign observers for the 2019 elections
Okoye, said the Commission has enhanced the Smart Card Readers in readiness for the 2019 elections and has eliminated the use of Incident forms for the elections.
To ensure inclusiveness, the Commission has introduced the use of braille jackets, magnifying glasses and assistive posters for persons with disability and has also validated the Framework for IDP Voting and Regulations for IDP Voting, Okoye sàid.