By Emmanuel Addeh
To reduce some of the difficulties encountered in previous elections in Bayelsa State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that it would make use of helicopters in the November 16 governorship election in the state.
The electoral body also disclosed that in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy, it has started the profiling of contracted boat operators , including conducting background check to determine their suitability to ferry non-sensitive materials during the poll.
Speaking on Wednesday in Yenagoa, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Monday Udoh, told newsmen that Bayelsa is a very difficult terrain to conduct elections, noting that the Commission is facing challenges squarely.
He added that the Commission was fully prepared for the poll, stressing that the training of ad-hoc staff for the exercise had been concluded.
“We have concluded arrangements with boat owners and the supply of buses to the point that the Navy is profiling them. Profiling means that we want to know the owners of the boats and the identity of their drivers.
“We have trained our adhoc staff. Apart from that, we have given them copies of the training so that even when they go home, they can train themselves.
“INEC wants this election to be exemplary in a way that it is going to act as a catalyst for the 2023 general election,” he said.
Udoh explained that the deployment of helicopters was to reduce the time it takes for materials to get to their destinations and return to areas of collations during the election.
“We are tackling insecurity and on November 1, I am going to be in Abuja with the Inspector General of Police and officers in the military and other security agencies to talk more about security, particularly how to escort materials.
“We have enlisted the use of helicopters so that where we used to have so much problem or maybe so much time running on the sea, we have to airlift them to where they should be,” he added.
According to the REC, the INEC in Bayelsa was bent on conducting a free, fair, credible and peaceful governorship election which would be a catalyst for the 2023 general polls.
He refuted allegations that he was in cahoots with certain interests to fraudulently sway the election results against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which had accused him of underhand dealings, insisting that the report that he conspired with the Vice-Chancellor, Federal University Otuoke to publish only APC members as supervisory officers (SPOs) was a lie.
Udoh said, “We shall remain focused on achieving our mandate. We shall not be distracted by false news being peddled against my humble self and INEC Bayelsa State.
“ I have no contact with the Acting DVC of Otuoke either to recruit or to receive a list from him. It is completely false and a figment of the imagination of the authors of such news.”