INEC bars govs, others from movement on election days
Unlike in previous national elections, the movement of all the 36 state governors, all political office holders and candidates of all the political parties would be restricted during the general polls in the country starting on April 2, 2011.
Mr. Kayode Idowu, the Chief Press Secretary to the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, said on Friday in Abuja that such politicians would only be allowed to cast their votes in their respective polling stations after which they could go to their respective houses.
He said that political office holders would not be allowed to move from one poling unit to the other in the guise of monitoring the election, contrary to the practice in the past.
He said, “All these stakeholders are being accredited to enable them move around because actually on that day, as has been said, people, including politicians who are office holders, incumbent and all that, will not be allowed to move around.
“They will only be required to cast their votes and return home. There is no room for monitoring, going from one polling unit to the other. At all levels, people will cast their votes and go home.”
While the assembly polls hold on April 2, 2011 across the country, the presidential ballot is scheduled for April 9, and the governorship election holds on April 16.
SATURDAY PUNCH gathered that the commission had started receiving the first batch of ballot papers for the election.
Idowu said that the list of those accredited to monitor the election was being processed and was nearing completion.
He explained that while the list of the domestic monitors had been completed, that of their international counterparts was being compiled.
Idowu said that accredited media practitioners were being compiled and would be completed days before the elections took off.
“The list of domestic monitors is on the web site. Foreign monitors are known. And their list is also being compiled. The list of media practitioners is being compiled and will be completed close to the election because there will be restriction,” he added.
Idowu said that the commission had concluded arrangements to ensure the deployment of a vast number of ad hoc workers for election duties put at over 360,000.
He said that the 360,000 ad hoc workers were to be deployed to effectively man the 120,000 polling units across the country.
Idowu said that three ad hoc workers of INEC were expected to man each of the 120,000 polling units, while regular members of staff of INEC would be deployed to man the sub units.
“We have a minimum of 360,000. It will actually be more because you know, we have approximately, 120,000 polling units and each of those would be manned by three officials,” he said. “But we also have sub units that will be manned by members of staff and so it will be more than 360,000 and that is not to talk of the regular officials that will be deployed. So, it is such a huge number.”
Idowu assured Nigerians that INEC was ready to execute the task of giving Nigerians free and fair elections starting from April 2.
According to him, the preparedness of INEC for the election is not in doubt as the commission has made all the necessary arrangements.
He said “Well, INEC is very well prepared and the issue, actually for INEC, as the chairman said a couple of days ago, is whether all the other stakeholders are prepared. Virtually all things that need to be done have been done or are in the process of being done.
“The ballot papers have been printed and are being delivered. The polling units and voting arrangements have been put in place. Non-sensitive materials have been deployed to the states and will shortly be deployed to the local government and ward levels. Because for the first time for this election, the deployment on election eve would actually be from the ward level, not the local government level as it used to be.
“And this is to address the issue of delay, and late arrival of materials at polling units. So, there would be deployment to the ward level on the eve of the elections and there would be camping by officials, materials and security agents at the ward level.
“And with the plan, the logistics for the deployment are being perfected. Already, state offices have submitted the description or topography of difficult terrains to enable security agencies that have offered logistic supports like the air force to do dry runs.
“So, all these things have been put in place. And the commission, in the last one week, has been consistent on the issue of manpower build up, capacity building, manpower wise.
“Actually, as at Wednesday this week, the commission met with political parties in a no-holds barred meetings and showed them everything about the election, described the guidelines of accreditation and voting, display the dummy ballot papers to them and displayed the ballot boxes to them. The voting cubicles were displayed just to sensitise and get the people aware and ready for the election. So, the commission is prepared.”
On security, Idowu said that INEC was satisfied with the operational plans being put in place by the various security agencies for the election.
He said that the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security put in place by the commission to provide effective coordination of the security agencies had taken care of the threat of violence in Borno, Bauchi, Plateau and other crisis ridden areas in the country.
He said that INEC had every cause to believe that the security agencies meant business after looking at their planning and operational orders for the elections.