The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has again said its focus in the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo State was the integrity of the process, not its outcome.
Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu made the submission on Monday in his presentation at the webinar organised by the International Press Centre (IPC) with the theme: ‘Edo/Ondo Elections: The imperative of Safety Consciousness and Conflict Sensitivity in Media Coverage and Reportage’.
Oyekanmi said the electoral umpire has no favoured candidates in the scheduled elections since it was not a political party.
He said:” It is the duty of INEC to provide a level playing field, we are not interested in the outcome of the elections but the credibility of the process, to ensure that materials get to the polling unit in good time.”
￼The media aide to Professor Yakubu said the Commission was disturbed about inflammatory remarks by politicians but assured that given the assurances from security agencies, the safety of journalists, the Commission staff and electorate would not be treated with levity.
“As we approach the Edo Governorship election, it is clear that the good people of the state and Nigerians as a whole are very concerned about what will happen on election day.
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“We have all been hearing the loud drumbeats of war from political actors. There have been accusations and counter-accusations. Just like everybody else, the Commission is deeply concerned.
“To be sure, INEC is ready for the election. Indeed, we are determined to conduct the election despite the current difficult circumstances.
“To that extent, regardless of the not-so-pleasant experiences, journalists might have experienced with security agents during elections in the past, they rest assured of good experience this time around.”
Giving an update on preparations for the elections in the two states, Oyekanmi further disclosed that “Out of the 14 activities listed in the timetable that we released in February, we have carried out 12. The only two left are the deadline for campaigns – 17th September and the election proper slated for 19th September.
“All the logistics needed for the election have been taken care of. The non-sensitive materials have been delivered to the 18 local government areas of the state.
“Our Electoral Officers, their Assistants and Supervisory Presiding Officers have been trained. Officers nominated by the various security agencies under the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) have also been trained and their actions will be guided by the Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement for Security Personnel on Electoral Duty.”