…strategises ahead of guber/state assembly polls

Nigeria’s electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Saturday said the country’s presidential and National Assembly elections held February 25 were fraught with logistics, technology and other issues that made the election environment even more challenging.

INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu said this at a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in Abuja held to review the commission’s performance in last Saturday’s elections as well as assess preparations for the Governorship and State Assembly elections slated for March 11.

He said last week’s national elections raised a number of issues that require immediate, medium, and long-term solutions.

“The planning for the election was painstakingly done. However, its implementation came with challenges, some of them unforeseen,” Yakubu said.

“The issues of logistics, election technology, behaviour of some election personnel at different levels, attitude of some party agents and supporters added to the extremely challenging environment in which elections are usually held in Nigeria,” he said

The INEC chief said the commission has learnt some lessons from last Saturday’s election and that what was of immediate concern was how to address the identified challenges ahead of the Governorship and State Assembly elections.

There will be governorship elections in 28 out of Nigeria’s 36 state while State Assembly elections will be held involve at total 993 seats.

“As we approach the Governorship and State Assembly elections, we must work harder to overcome the challenges experienced in the last election. Nothing else will be acceptable to Nigerians,” Yakubu said.

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“All staff found to be negligent, whether they are regular or ad hoc officials, including Collation and Returning Officers, must not be involved in forthcoming elections. RECs must also immediately initiate disciplinary action where prima facie evidence of wrongdoing has been established,” he said.

He said by standard practice, the Electoral Officers (EOs) at local government level must handle election day logistics and this must finalised days before the election.

“Centralising the process as was done in some states resulted in delayed deployment of personnel and materials and late commencement of polls,” Yakubu said.

“RECs will be held responsible for any tardy arrangement or the failure to deploy electric power generators to collation centres or polling units where such facilities are needed. The Commission has enough facilities in all the States of the Federation. Failure to deploy them is simply inexcusable,” he said.

He directed that refresher training be conducted for ad hoc staff who took part in the last election, but where they are replaced for good reason, the new intake must be properly trained in order to forestall delay or compromising of processes at any stage..

“Arising from last week’s election, the Commission has received reports from our state offices, as well as complaints and petitions from political parties and candidates. Where infractions of any kind are proven, there will be redress. I must add that any action taken by the Commission is without prejudice to the rights of parties and candidates to seek further remedy as provided by law,” Yakubu said.

He said the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) would once again be deployed for voter accreditation and result management as its deployment in last week’s election sanitised voter accreditation to a great extent.

“Since last week, the Commission has intensified the review of the technology to ensure that glitches experienced, particularly with the upload of results, are rectified. We are confident that going forward the system will run optimally,” he said.