•Candidates sign peace accord October 6
Chuks Okocha and James Sowole in Akure
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday gave details of how the October 10 governorship election in Ondo State would be conducted, stating that 1,478,460 voters are eligible to determine the fate of the candidates of the various political parties, by casting their votes in the 3,009 polling units in the state.
This is against the voting population of 1,822,345 in the 18 local government areas within 203 electoral wards and registration areas.
It also stated that 343,886 voters may not vote as they failed to collect their Permanent Voters Card (PVCs), adding that it has, however, replaced the over 5,100 Smart Card Readers (SCRs), burnt in its state headquarters during a fire incidence, by sourcing the material from its Oyo State office
It called on traditional rulers in the state to prevail on their representatives at the National Assembly to ensure the passage of the bill for the establishment of Electoral Offences Commission.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has cautioned the commission against the use of the Z-pad technology, insisting that it will compromise the credibility of the October 10 election, having failed during a test-run deployment for voter accreditation in the recent Nasarawa State by-elections.
Apart from other political parties participating in the elections, political analysts believe the three major candidates that will lock horns in the election are Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) of the All Progressives Congress (APC); Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) of the PDP and Mr. Agboola Ajayi, the current deputy governor, who is also the candidate of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
Addressing journalists yesterday on the state of preparedness of the commission, the Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said that the commission has completed 12 items out of the 14 slated for the election.
He explained that the only outstanding issues are the submission of the names of polling agents and the last date for campaigns by the political parties.
The INEC chairman explained that the commission has put the ugly fire incident behind it as it has sourced more than 5100 SCRs from its office in Oyo.
At the moment, he said that the SCRs are being electrically charged and reconfigured.
He said INEC would not use the SCRs from Edo State governorship election because they are kept for post-election activities.
“What remains can be accomplished within the remaining 16 days to the election. If we exclude the Election Day on Saturday, October 10, we have 15 days. So, we have two weeks, and a day to the election. The sensitive materials for the election are ready. The CBN will deliver them to the branch.
“On Monday, the 5th of October, the sensitive materials for the election will arrive,” the INEC chairman stated.
He announced that INEC will still use the Z- Pad technology, explaining that the Z- pad is already on its way to Akure.
The INEC chairman said the commission will have a stakeholders’ meeting with all the political parties on October 5 and, while on October 6, all the candidates and their political parties will sign a peace accord with the National Peace Committee (NPC) led by the former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).
He explained that the commission is aware of some violence in the last election in Edo State governorship and are working to prevent such incidents in the Ondo State governorship election.
“We’re also aware of some incidents of violence among supporters of some political parties; any incident of violence is worrisome to the commission,” he said, explaining that INEC will meet with security agencies and traditional rulers.
“We will appeal to the royal majesties and the Obas to appeal to the candidates and their supporters for peaceful conduct. I’m also glad that the National Peace Committee under the leadership of our former head of state of Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar is going to intervene by organising the signing of the peace accord, similar to what we did in Edo State,” the INEC chairman said.
Yakubu said that the commission will adhere strictly to the COVID -19 Protocols, explaining that as was the case in Edo State: “No face mask no voting.”
He equally said that there would be the infrared thermometer to check body temperature of voters.
“Every eligible voter, who is on the queue before 2.30 p.m. will be allowed to vote even if voting, goes beyond 2.30 p.m. No one will be disenfranchised,” he added.
PDP Cautions INEC against Use of Z-pad
Meanwhile, the PDP National Campaign Council for Ondo Governorship Election has cautioned the INEC against the use of the Z-pad technology for the election.
According to the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, “Our campaign recalls that the Z-pad technology had failed during a test-run deployment for voter accreditation in Nasarawa by-election; a situation that informed its rejection by INEC for voter accreditation in the September 19 Edo State governorship election, where it was only used to assist in direct uploading of results to INEC’s virtual portal.
“We, therefore, urge INEC to limit the Z-pad technology to the purpose for which it has helped the commission to attain integrity as witnessed in the Edo State governorship election.
“Our campaign also charges INEC to discountenance the blackmail by the All Progressives Congress (APC) against the replacement of the over 5,000 card readers that were burnt by APC agents to frustrate the conduct of a credible governorship election in Ondo State.”
PDP called on INEC to note that the APC is bent on its plots to frustrate the commission’s efforts following clear indications that there is no way its candidate, Akeredolu, can win in a free, fair and credible election.
“Our demand is predicated on information available to us that INEC officials detailed to handle the process are about being compromised by the APC to engage their members as INEC ad hoc staff with a view to using them to rig the election,” the PDP stated.
The party insisted that Akeredolu; an APC chieftain, Mr. Isaac Kekemeke, and other APC agents of violence should be invited by INEC and security agencies and cautioned to desist from acts of violence like the one recently perpetrated by the APC in Oba-Akoko, where the PDP candidate, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, was almost assassinated, but for the intervention of the people.
In another development, INEC has called on the traditional rulers in Ondo State to prevail on their representatives at the National Assembly to ensure passage of the bill for the establishment of Electoral Offences Commission.
Yakubu, made the appeal yesterday in Akure, Ondo State during an interaction with traditional rulers in the state on the forthcoming governorship election.
He was reacting to a remark by a monarch that the inability of the INEC to effectively prosecute electoral offenders had emboldened violators of the electoral law to continue with the act in subsequent elections.
The INEC Chairman said the commission relies on the police for the arrest, investigation and prosecution of electoral offenders, which in many cases hampered the ability of the INEC to bring to book the electoral offenders.
However, he said the commission was able to prosecute 40 electoral offenders in one of the South-west states but lamented that the commission, would have been happier if sponsors of the offenders, were arrested and prosecuted because the perpetrators are actually not the beneficiaries of the offences.