Osun Guber Poll: What We Have Done To Ensure Credible Election- INEC

Moses Ofodeme

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has declared its readiness and preparation to ensure a credible outcome of the upcoming Osun State Governorship election.

The election is scheduled to hold on Saturday July 16.

At a Stakeholders forum preparatory to the election on Tuesday in Oshogbo, INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said, “For us in INEC, let me reassure political parties, candidates and the electorate that the choice of who becomes the next Governor of Osun State is entirely in the hands of voters. As I have repeatedly said in previous engagements with stakeholders, INEC will not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate. Our focus is on the processes and procedures as provided by law.

“So far, we have successfully implemented 12 out of 14 activities contained in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the election. The only two outstanding activities are the last day of campaign by political parties which ends at midnight on Thursday 14th July 2022 and Election Day activities on Saturday 16th July 2022.”

The Chairman disclosed hat the Commission has taken every step and made every arrangement for the successful conduct of the Governorship election this weekend. He went further to say, “We held consultative meetings with political parties and their candidates. We had several engagements with the security agencies at national, State and Local Government levels.

“We consulted with stakeholders. We sought for, and received, the blessings of Royal Fathers and religious leaders. We have recruited, trained and carefully screened all categories of ad-hoc staff to be deployed to the field. All non-sensitive materials for the election have been delivered to all our 30 Local Government Area offices across the State.

“Voter education and sensitisation is ongoing. We have made arrangements for the transportation of personnel and materials to ensure that polling units open on schedule on Election Day. For a more effective supervision of the process, we are deploying five National Commissioners, twelve Resident Electoral Commissioners and many senior officials to support our State office here in Osun to deliver credible elections.”

Yakubu, informed the meeting that “Voter registration was carried out all over the State, including the devolution of the exercise to the 332 Wards across the State. We have printed and delivered the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) for collection by all valid registrants in the State. When we visited Osun last week to assess our readiness for the election, concerns were expressed about the availability of the PVCs especially for those who applied for transfer of their registration to Osun State or to new locations within the State. I am glad to report that we have delivered the PVCs for fresh registrants, transfers and requests for replacement of cards as a result of loss, damage or incorrect personal details such as names, dates of birth etc. as provided by law.”

Furthermore, in its effort to ensure that more voters collect their PVCs before the election, the Commission devolved the collection of PVCs from our 30 Local Government offices to each of the 332 Wards across the State, thereby increasing the number of collection centres and bringing the process closer to voters, worked all days of the week, including the weekend and public holidays to serve voters and extended the last date for the collection of PVCs to Thursday14th July 2022 i.e. 24 hours to the election.

He therefore, appealed to all registered voters that are yet to collect their PVCs to seize the opportunity of the additional measures to do so.

“Many of the PVCs have already been collected by citizens. Of the 1,955,657 registered voters in Osun State, 1,479,595 (or 76%) have collected their cards as at Sunday 10th July 2022. We are also updating our records to provide detailed breakdown of PVCs collected by polling units. This will be concluded and made available on Friday 15th July 2022. This is important because the total number of PVCs collected will be used to determine the margin of lead principle, as against the total number of registered voters in line with our Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections 2022 derived from the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022. ” said Yakubu.

 

To underscore its commitment to an inclusive, credible and transparent electoral process, the Commission is deploying assistive devices for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) to have a more pleasant voting experience on Election Day, the Chairman said, adding, “Magnifying glasses, Braille Ballot Guide and Posters for voters with hard of hearing conditions will be deployed at polling unit level in areas of need based on data collected in collaboration with the PwD community. Similarly, our revised Regulations and Guidelines provide for priority to be accorded at polling units to PwDs without waiting in long queues during voting as is the case with elderly people, pregnant women and nursing mothers.”

Beyond these measures, the Commission moved to make PwDs to get more involved in election administration like everyone else.

“In this regard, the 2022 Osun State Governorship election will also make history, being the first election in which INEC is deploying PwDs as ad hoc staff. Thirty-five (35) serving NYSC members with one form of disability or another have been identified, trained and engaged as ad hoc staff at polling unit level. I appeal to all stakeholders to cooperate with, and protect them, as well as all other ad hoc staff, in our effort to make our electoral process more inclusive and participatory.” he said.

Yakubu, also said the Commission would continue to deploy technology in the electoral process both as a matter of practice and a requirement of the law, pointing that, “The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) will be deployed for voter accreditation and uploading of election results on the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal on Election Day. Steps have been taken to ensure that the BVAS machines function optimally during voter accreditation based on lessons learnt from the conduct of recent elections.”

He recalled hat a few weeks ago, mock accreditation exercise was conducted in polling units across the State which he personally observed during the exercise in Osogbo and Boripe LGAs in Osun Central as well as Ede South and Egbedore LGAs in Osun West Senatorial Districts.

He said he also visited the Commissions Ife Central, Ife East and Ife North LGA offices in Osun East Senatorial District, and was encouraged by the successful outcome of the mock exercise and the level of preparations by the offices.

The Commission also trained enough Registration Area Technical Support Staff (RATECHs) and made adequate transportation arrangements for their rapid response in the event of reported glitches on Election Day.

According to him, The Commission has accredited Polling Agents nominated by political parties for the 3,763 polling units, 332 Ward collation centres, 30 Local Government Area collation centres and the State Collation Centre where the final declaration of result will be made.

“As an indication of the intense national and international interest in the 2022 Osun State Governorship Election, 87 Observer groups (79 domestic and 8 international) deploying a total of 7,790 field observers have been accredited for the election. Similarly, 94 media organisations (92 national and 2 international) deploying 624 journalists have been accredited to cover the election.” Yakubu added.

On Election Day, he assured that the national headquarters of INEC in Abuja will monitor the election throughout the State. “Our Zoom Situation Room will be activated. We are working to ensure that accredited observers and the media are invited to join us at intervals to provide live reports from the field. At the same time, citizens can contact us on our various platforms such as the toll-free INEC Citizens Contact Centre (ICCC) telephone line in addition to our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.” he said.

Yakubu, however warned against sundry violations of electoral law, including the diabolical practice of vote buying in which voters are financially induced to vote one way or another, stating, “It is obvious that the more the Commission and other stakeholders work hard to progressively improve the quality of national elections in Nigeria, the more some retrogressive elements try to undermine the process. While we will continue to work with the security and anti-corruption agencies to confront this challenge, our effort will be given a boost by the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal as recommended by the Uwais Committee in 2009, reinforced by the Lemu Committee in 2011 and the Nnamani Committee in 2017.”

He stated that the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal Bill is under consideration of the National Assembly and that the INEC supports the initiative and appealed to the National Assembly for a speedy conclusion and passage of the Bill into law.

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