Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has mapped out strategies to degrade threats to the conduct of the Kogi and Bayelsa States’ governorship elections scheduled to hold on November 16.
INEC also disclosed that it is partnering with the Nigerian Navy and Air Force to provide security for its personnel and materials during the elections.
INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, made the disclosure at a dialogue session with Resident Electoral Commissioners, (REC), in Abuja ahead of the two elections.
In addition, Okoye revealed that the commission has banned some ad-hoc staff who abused the trust reposed on them during the 2019 general elections.
He said that given “the challenges of topography in the two states and their unfortunate history of electoral violence, we have mapped out strategies of degrading threats to the conduct of elections and ensuring the safety of materials and personnel.
“We are also in consultation and partnership with the Nigerian Navy and Air Force for the purposes of providing security for our personnel and materials.
“As part of its preparations for both governorship elections, the commission has embarked on sustained and targeted voter education, stakeholder engagements and peace building initiatives.
“To this end, it (INEC) has, through its Alternative Dispute Resolution Directorate, met with traditional rulers, religious leaders and youth groups in the states who have committed to ensuring peaceful elections.
“However, the Commission has banned some ad-hoc staff who abused the trust reposed on them during the 2019 general elections.”
He urged Nigerians to have faith in the country’s electoral process and work for the consolidation its democratic system.
He said: “Courts and the tribunals are the only democratic mechanisms for electoral conflict resolution.
“The courts and the tribunals are handmaids of the electoral process and exist to correct mistakes and allow genuinely aggrieved litigants and petitioners have their day in court.
“The courts and tribunals are not suited for ‘electoral blackmail’ or ‘extortionist settlement’ or ‘political grandstanding.’”
Okoye noted that at the conclusion of the 2019 general elections, aggrieved parties and candidates filed and served the INEC with a total of 807 petitions. Some people regarded this as huge and a sign of regression in the electoral process.
“However, as at October 25, 2019, the petitioners withdrew a total of 190 petitions while 570 were dismissed and four are still pending. Also 42 of the petitions were determined in favour of the petitioners.
“It is important to take genuine and serious matters to court while professional litigants and other ‘meddlesome interlopers’ should find alternative mechanisms and avenues of ventilating whatever grievance they have.
“We urge civil society groups and organisations to train their observers well,” he said.
He disclosed that 1,646,350 voters would be on the register for the governorship election in Kogi State.
According to him, the election would take place in 2, 548 polling units and collated in 239 registration areas while 23 political parties would be on the ballot for the governorship election and 24 political parties would be on the ballot for the Kogi West Senatorial District Election.”
He added; “On the other hand, Bayelsa State has a total of 923,182 registered voters, 105 registration areas and 1,804 polling units.
“Out of the total number of registered voters, a total of 889,308, representing 96.3 percent, have collected their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) while a total of 33,874, representing 3.7 percent, are yet to collect their PVC.
“Overall, a total of 45 political parties will be on the ballot.”