The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday expressed optimism about the early arrival of materials and officials during the presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for February 25.
The PUNCH reports that elections in Nigeria have always been characterized by late arrival of materials, with electoral officials arriving at polling units hours after the official commencement of polls.
The commission, however, assured that the forthcoming elections would be different because it had put in place the necessary logistics to ensure that polls open early.
INEC Director (Voter Education and Publicity), Victor Aluko, gave the assurance during a media and civil society organisations roundtable on 2023 elections with the theme “Avoiding landmines, overcoming obstacles and conducting credible elections”, organised by the International Press Centre, which held in Abuja.
He said, “I assure you that with the system we have put in place, the logistics arrangement and with the fact that we are employing credible persons as electoral officials, I don’t see anyone getting to the polling units late.
“What we do is, we usually activate our racks and we move officials there a night before the election so that very early in the morning, they move to poll units within the registration areas. So, we don’t anticipate a situation where they will arrive late. It won’t happen I assure you.”
Speaking on the fuel and naira scarcity and its possible impact on the elections, Aluko said the commission had visited officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited and governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to express its concerns.
He added that he was optimistic that the assurances given by both agencies would be met with actions.
Aluko also advised eligible voters in the upcoming general election to visit its online portal to know their polling units.
According to him, the advice was necessary following the decision of the commission to move some allotted voters from overcrowded polling units to less congested polling units within the same location to promote a stress-free voting experience on election day.
He said, “The commission has launched “operation know your polling units” via its websites for voters to know where they will vote. We have also mobilized all our Local Government Areas officials to mobilize people of influence like community and political leaders to sensitize voters.
“Also, a directive has gone out to all electoral officials that before the first election which is on the February 25, the voter register will be pasted for eligible voters to confirm their names on the register.
“For polling units that may be a little far from where people are voting before, we have men on ground from the community and political leaders to sensitise and assist eligible voters to know their units. If we put all this together I think we are ready to do.
“I want to conclude that as a nation, we should ensure that as a country, we do not put any landmines and obstacles on the path of our people as they prepare to vote this year.”
The Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, expressed concern over the recent court judgements on election matters.
He said a situation where the citizens would loose faith and trust in the judicial system won’t augur well for the country.
“It is of huge concern looking at the recent pronouncement by the courts. I would like to remind the judiciary that justice is rooted in public confidence. A situation where the public is losing faith and trust in the system won’t mean well for us”, he stated.
The Executive Director of the IPC, Lanre Arogundade, called on security to be attached to journalists during the coverage of this year’s exercise as he appealed to security agencies to protect media professionals so they won’t be a repeat of previous incidents on attacks on journalists.
While urging journalists to be professional in their coverage, he called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), to find a lasting solution to the naira scarcity challenge.
“The issue of Naira scarcity will also affect observers and journalists because they will also need money to move around. Therefore something must be done to ensure that we have easy coverage. The emperor of Nigeria now is (President Muhammadu) Buhari and as an emperor, he shouldn’t fiddle while the Nigerian nation burns,” he added.