Students, politicians face uncertainty over Edo election

Students writing Mathematics in the  2016 General Certificate Examinations (GCE) of the West African Examination Council  (WAEC) slated for September 10 in Edo State may be moved to neighbouring states to write the paper, Sunday Tribune has gathered.

The option is one of the few on the table following the clash in the timetables for the conduct of governorship election in Edo State and that of Mathematics paper in the examination as released by WAEC.

In order to resolve the conundrum, the  Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), officials of WAEC and security agencies in Edo State have been meeting but with no agreement reached yet.

Speaking on the issue, spokesman of the Edo State Police Command, DSP Theodore Okafor, said the matter was extensively discussed when the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Operation, Joshak Habila, visited the state police command on Thursday.

He said at a meeting which had in attendance the visiting DIG, state Police Commissioner, Chris Ezike, and officials of INEC and WAEC, the DIG made it clear to WAEC officials that the police was not disposed to having the election and examination the same day as the conduct of the examination may jeopardise security that was being put in place for the election.

“The DIG spoke on the issue when he visited, and WAEC (officials) asked him what they needed to do. One thing is how come WAEC did not address the issue with their national headquarters in Ghana since the election date was fixed for September 10?

“There was no conclusion per se (during the meeting). The DIG asked them why not make arrangements to move the students to nearby states because there is no way the police can guarantee (the WAEC examination) as election will restrict movement.

“The DIG said, on his own, he cannot guarantee that examination will hold that day and that they (WAEC) should go and do their homework and see if students  could be moved to neighbouring states.

“He said it was impossible as it amounts to giving police double duty that day. He said criminals could infiltrate Edo and cause problems.

“Election and examination cannot take place on the same day because examination means movement and we cannot know the people moving around that day,” he said.

Speaking on the clash of the timetables, INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Edo State, Sam Olumekun, disclosed that INEC was not considering shifting the election because of the WAEC examination and that the examination body has been advised to explore avenues to conducting the paper.

“For us, we are doing election that day and the whole country is aware of that. We have met with WAEC and we have given them some advice.

“We don’t know exactly how they are going to tackle it but elections will certainly hold. I can only comment on election and not examinations.

“We will hold election on the 10th (September). They (WAEC) have met with the security agencies, the DIG of Police and INEC commissioners.

“They offered them some advice. I sympathise with them because the examination is an international examination. We have offered them some concession and we hope they will take a decision.”

Asked if INEC could shift ground, he said: “that INEC should shift ground, how? I’m talking about 1.9 million Edo citizens, who are qualified to vote. The total figure of students writing the examination in Edo is about 122,000.”

In a reaction, Edo State chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dan Orbih, said his party was not bothered about a likely change to the election, saying “anytime the election is conducted, we are certain of victory.”

Also speaking, the publicity secretary of the All Progressives Congress  (APC) in Edo State, Godwin Erhahon, said “whatever INEC asked us to do and whenever they asked us to go for the election, we are okay.”

Meanwhile, there are also fears that the September 10 date may clash with this year’s Sallah celebrations which is further compounding  the anxiety among politicians in the state.