Despite the state of insecurity posing serious challenge on the November 6, Anambra Gubernatorial election, the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has stated that the commission would go ahead to conduct the poll in the state.
This is even as the Nigeria Police Force has declared its readiness to ensure adequate security in the state during the exercise, dismissing fears of a possible declaration of a sit-at-home by separatist group(s) on the election day.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu who was represented by a National Commissioner and Chairman of the commission’s Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr. Festus Okoye urged politicians to refrain from casting aspersions on the commission, saying propaganda does not work elections.
Vowing that only the votes of Anambra people will determine who be ones the next governor of the state, Okoye also explained how INEC stores its nonsensitive election materials.
Okoye said; “Only the votes of Anambra people will count. It will determine who wins the election. Propaganda won’t do it.
“On the issue of where we store our electoral materials, this commission and previous commission’s have always had what we call zonal stores in different parts of the country where we store nonsensitive materials. After the elections, we embark on what we call reverse logistics. We return those materials to the stores.
“These materials are not provided off the shelf. Three is also a procurement process. So, when the contractors supply these materials, we put them in the zonal stores. There is a zonal store in each geopolitical zone.
“Our offices in Anambra were burnt and as of then we had deploy over 50 percent of nonsensitive materials in Anambra state. But we have fixed some of the damaged facilities and in the coming days we shall move materials from our various zonal stores to Anambra where we will batch them an deploy to the local governments”.
On the security situation in the state, Okoye expressed confidence in the ability of all stakeholders to ensure a hitch free exercise in order to avert any possible constitutional crisis.
“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”, he stated.
Okoye however added that “the commission does not envisage constitutional crisis in Anambra because we are ready for the elections and we believe that security agencies are ready and the voters are ready too”.
He also appealed to stakeholders to ensure the security of Corps members who would be deployed as ad hoc staff for the polls, saying no amount of insurance cover can compensate for the loss do any life.
“We therefore appeal to all the critical stakeholders to rally round the Commission and give their maximum cooperation towards this goal. The Commission needs a safe and secure environment for efficient and professional deployment of staff and materials.
“We must realize 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”, he stated.
Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi decided the rise on fake news, misinformation and disinformation, urging the media to rise to the challenge of correcting the anomaly.
Programme Manager of Inclusive Friends Association, Moses Oluwaseyi on his part declared that inclusiveness in elections is not a privilege but a right available for vulnerable groups.
“There are drivers that make elections inclusive and the first is adequate security. It is not enough that I have my PVC and ready to vote but of there is no guarantees security, then I cannot go out and vote”, he stated.
Chairman, Transition Monitoring Group TMG, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani deplored the preponderance of money politics in Nigeria, stating that one of the Federal Government’s programmes, “Tradermoni” through which it disbursed money to traders is a form of vote buying.
“Tradermoni tantamount to vote buying. The government did it in the leadup to the election, so why are they no longer doing it? If you have to give money to Nigerians, let it be that you are doing that because they deserve it and not doing it to buy votes.
“This time around, we shall mobilize Nigerians against electoral violence and vote buying”, he added.
The Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Baba Alkali said that as part of its efforts to ensure a hitch-free election in Anambra come November 6, that Police plans to deploy six helicopters in the state to provide aerial patrol, surveillance and support for ground forces during the polls.
Represented by a Chief Superintendent of Police CSP, Muyiwa Adejobi, the police boss said no one or group has the power to declare a sit-at-home in any part of the country.
He said; “I am sure you know that no individual has the right to declare a curfew or sit at home in any part of this country. Nigeria is a sovereignty. It is a nation and we know such will not be tolerated anywhere and in any part of this country.
“So, we are not aware of any sir at home order from anybody. We know we are working with INEC to make sure we have Anambra Guber election come November 6. That is our stand.
“Before any operation, there is a Standard Operating Procedure which we use to design an operations order and that has been done. It has taken care of all possible threats. We have made efforts to deploy both human and material resources to support INEC, to make sure we have a free, fair, credible and acceptable election in Anambra.
“As I speak with you, the IGP is working on repairs of some of our helicopters so that we can have more aerial patrol, surveillance and support. I think about six helicopters are now under repairs as directed by the IGP so that we can fortify our teams and apart from Anambra election, so that we can still deploy then in some of our conflict theatres. So, we are very prepared”.
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Earlier, Chairman of the Press Corps, Segun Ojumu said the forum was part of the intellectual contributions of the media to deepening the electoral process.