The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday 19th February updated stakeholders on its preparations to ensure a successful conduct of Nigeria’s general elections rescheduled because of logistical and operational challenges.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu gave an assurance that with the implementation of the Commission’s six-point plan unveiled last Saturday, personnel and all electoral materials would be in place and on time at all the Registration Area Councils (RACs) across the country for the presidential and National Assembly elections on 23rd February.
He informed the stakeholders, including representatives of political parties, civil society groups, the media and international observers, that 98% of the 180,000 Smart Card Readers for the elections had already been configured, with all of them expected to be ready by 20th February, a day ahead of the projected deadline.
Refresher training for ah-hoc polling personnel is planned for 22nd February, the Chairman said, adding: “We are working hard, we are committed and confident that the elections will take place as scheduled and are free, fair and credible.”
He also assured that adequate provisions had been made to ensure that registered voters in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps, and minority groups including persons with disability would be allowed to exercise their civic rights.
The INEC Chief clarified that no INEC Commissioner had been arrested by security agents, noting that violators of electoral laws would be punished, according to the provisions of the electoral laws.
While confirming that the campaign periods had been extended as a result of the postponement of the polls, Prof Yakubu appealed to politicians to avoid using languages that could overheat the polity.
He promised that the Commission would provide a daily update on the level of preparations for the elections, while thanking national and international stakeholders for their continuous understanding over the postponement of the polls.
Some 84 million registered Nigerian voters will cast their ballots for a president, 29 State governors 109 senators, 991 lawmakers of the National and State Houses of Assembly, six Area Council Chairperson and 62 Councillors in the Federal Capital Abuja from the 1,558 candidates vying for various positions.
Incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) are the front-runners for the presidential poll on 23rd February. Election to fill the vacant National Assembly seats will come up on the same day, while those for the governors and State Houses of Assembly are now slated for 9th March.