By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disclosed that a total of 14 political parties in Ekiti State will participate in the National Assembly elections holding across the country on Saturday, February 16.
The Senate and House of Representatives’ elections, according to the INEC timetable, are to hold alongside the presidential poll, that would be fiercely contested by the candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari,, and that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
He assured voters that the smart card readers would record zero failure this time, contrary to the situation witnessed in the past elections, where INEC staff had to resort to incident forms for those that fell victims of the failure to vote.
Speaking in Ado Ekiti Monday, the INEC Administrative Secretary in Ekiti State, Dr. Muslim Omoleke, said only 14 out of the 73 existing political parties in the country indicated interests for the elections in the state.
Omoleke added that politicians would be disappointed on Saturday if they rely on the strategy of vote buying to win elections, saying the polling booths would be arranged in such a way that would counter such electoral heist.
“Only 14 parties indicated interest for the Senate and House of Representatives in Ekiti out of the 73 parties that showed interest in
the forthcoming elections beginning from the presidency to the House of Assembly.
“We want to assure Nigerians that we will be fair to all parties. To us in INEC, no party is big or small, they are the same and it is with that spirit we are going to deal with them on the day of elections,” he said.
On vote buying, Omoleke said: “Politicians won’t find it easy this time. We have mapped out our strategies and we are working closely with the security agencies to make perfect arrangements of our polling booths in such a way that no one can know where and who you actually voted for.
“Apart from vote buying, politicians also resorted to ballot snatching to win elections. This can no longer work because anywhere such
incident is recorded will be cancelled and election will be repeated there the second day.
“Perpetrators of such have nothing to gain, because they will automatically lose such votes to cancellation and if they are caught during ballot snatching or identified but security agencies, then they will be prosecuted and jailed.”
Omoleke said for the commission to monitor the distribution of both sensitive and insensitive materials across the 16 local government areas of the state, all the vehicles conveying the materials will be tracked to ascertain that they end up in the right
“We are tracking our vehicles to determine their destinations. We put this in place to prevent diversion of ballot papers and other election materials,” he said.
The INEC boss also dismissed the widespread information that the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu-led INEC is being teleguided by certain politicians.
“INEC under Prof. Yakubu is truly independent. No one controls INEC because we are empowered by laws to enjoy financial and administrative
autonomy. It is no longer easy for them to control us,” he stated.