BENINCITY- Ahead of the March 28, 2015 General elections, Governor Adams Oshiomhole has tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure the delivery of voting materials to the polling centers on time so as to guarantee credible democratic elections.
Speaking to the Edo State INEC Resident Commissioner who paid him a courtesy visit in Government House yesterday, Oshiomhole said, “One major area is the question of late arrival of materials. This has been a tool that INEC has used oftentimes, deliberately, to reduce the number of voters, but that is not the number that could have voted if INEC did not try to collude to delay the materials so that even in the heart of Benin, between INEC office at Ikpoba Hill to Oredo and even within Ikpoba Okha where the INEC office is, it took them 5 hours from 8am to about 1pm for materials to get there.
“The average middle class person would have said, inasmuch as I want to vote, I am not going to waste my entire day waiting. So, many people left in frustrations before the materials arrived and that affected the number of persons that voted. I remember one of your officials told me that they didn’t pay NYSC officials their allowances, that is why they protested. That shouldn’t be Election Day issues.”
The Governor continued, “I hope you take into cognizance that as you distribute and move the materials, there are increasing security challenges. When you move the materials to CBN, I understand that CBN is a safe zone but once it moves from there to the local government headquarters, the security challenge is decentralized to 18 locations, by the time you move them to the ward, you will be needing security in 192 locations and as you transport them from the wards to the polling booths, you will have over 2,627 locations where protection will be required.
“I hope you have arrangement with the security agencies, so that we will have effective policing for both your men and the materials up to the polling booth so that our country can freely vote. The tension that people talk about, there shouldn’t be tension if there is confidence that the votes will count.
“The role of INEC is central. I have had cause to say that when we politicians talk about dividends of democracy, talk about roads, hospitals, yes, but even dictators built roads, they built schools, sometimes even better roads so it is not so much as whether government performs or not. In a free society, once we are not socialists, no one should impose himself on us. That is why democracy issue comes in and election process is the only way to allow everybody who seeks to be king to go to the level of the dwarf because only the dwarf is qualified to crown the king.
“I am satisfied that INEC has done soul searching and has identified critical areas of electoral malpractices and has taken steps to eliminate all the loopholes and weaknesses that are being noticed which I believe led to the introduction of the card readers and biometrics.
“In this state, we launched the one man one vote campaign because the state was a den for rigging and we said we can’t continue with this, that cannot be a way of life. In the elections we have had so far, imperfect as they were, there have been a substantial improvement over previous elections. The people can see the difference when the vote counts”, he said.
Earlier, the Edo State INEC resident Commissioner said, “Since I arrived Benin City on January 13, 2015, I have held meetings with various stakeholders, particularly the two parties that are indeed the essential organs in this democratic process which is critical to the coming elections.
“As umpires saddled with the responsibility of providing democratic competition, we have a responsibility to give the state and the country a clear statistics of not only this coming Saturday election but subsequent ones and we are indeed sure that the outcome of the election will be accepted by all stakeholders.”
He used the opportunity to show the Governor and members of the State Executive Council on the use of the Card Reader and the intimate him on INEC’s preparedness for the Saturday Election saying that three ballot boxes will be provided with Presidential ballot box and papers carrying red color for Presidential, black color for the Senate and Green color for the House of Representatives.
He appealed to the state Governor to help mobilize the registered 1,000,246 voters in Edo State in order to have a good turnout of voters.

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