Edo 2020: INEC chairman demands neutrality from staff
•Says our focus is the process, not the outcome
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC,) Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has advised staff of the commission not to fall for the antics of politicians who might be planning to induce them in the forthcoming Edo State governorship election.
He gave the admonition on Friday when he visited the INEC offices in three local government areas of Ikpoba Okha, Oredo and Egor in Benin City, Edo State capital.
He maintained that the electoral umpire was not interested in the candidate that would emerge victoriously, but the credibility of the process.
He said: ” You must strive to be neutral and show professionalism. We aren’t against any party, our concern is the integrity of the process, not who wins the election.
“We are only interested in transparent conduct of the September 19 election.”
Speaking on its new policy to safe lives of the electorate and staff in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the INEC chairman highlighted the precautionary measures in compliance with the directive of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
“I am sure you have seen the policy of conducting an election under COVID-19.”
“We have made compulsory the wearing of face mask and the use of hand sanitizers and we have made provision for that.
“So we have made a request to the PTF to avail us with about 3,000 Infrared Thermometer for polling units and voting points.
“But on our own, we have made provision for 192 ward collation centres and when PTF is able to avail us, we would extend it to the collation centre in the 18 local government and the state collation centres.”
“At the collation centres we have made provision for Infrared Thermometer and we are working to extend this to polling units.”
“You are required to manage the polling unit in a manner that we have not been doing before as the cubicle would be demarcated in a manner that will give the two-meter distance between voters since it is going to be accreditation and voting.”
To inspire public confidence in the election, Professor Yakubu further revealed that his Commission has since introduced new innovations in order to deepen transparency in the result management process.
“In addition to the card reader authentication, we are going to deploy the zip with Z-file, it is a tablet with a camera, at the end of the process after voting has been concluded and sorted out the ballots and counted, the picture of the ECFA would be taken and transmitted to a dedicated portal so that Nigeria can view the polling unit results live and direct by those close to the polling units.”
“We did the same in Nasarawa State Central by-election and before the declaration of results, Nigerians were able to view the few clean results of the polling units.”
“It was a great enhancement of the previous elections and this is the major election after the Nasarawa state by-election.”
“So Edo state will set the pace for the conduct of major by-election.
He mandated the Edo State Resident Electoral Commission, Johnson Alalibo to ensure that polling units were opened early.
“I want Nigerians to find officials and materials waiting for them and not the other way round hence we have to address the issue of logistics.
“We have adjusted the time from 8 am to 8:30 and the closing time from 2 pm to 2:30 pm.”
“I am confident you will not let the Commission down.”
“We were here four years ago and the lesson we learnt is that we must be able to speed the process and declared the result on time because the longer it takes, the more it becomes problematic to manage it so we must get logistics right.”
Dr Alalibo told the INEC chairman that all arrangements for the September 19 governorship election, including the training of staff have been concluded.
On the entourage of the INEC Chairman to assess preparation for the Edo election were National Commissioner and Chairman,
Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, National Commissioner in charge of Rivers, Delta and Edo states, Mrs May Agbamuche Mbu, Mallam Mohammed Haruna, amongst others.
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