Politics

INEC on trial in Anambra

All eyes are on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ahead of tomorrow’s governorship election in Anambra State, WALE ELEGBEDE reports

When the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the timetable and schedule of activities for the Anambra State governorship election earlier in January 2021, not many Nigerians and even the umpire, envisaged the torrents of challenges threatening the seamless conduct of the election by the Commission. Aside from security challenges threatening at the election, the Commission appears stuck on the processes to use in the conduct of the election, especially with the impasse over the Electoral Act amendment.

It is envisaged in some quarters that the controversy trailing the electronic transmission of results in the Electoral Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill, 2021, may have effects on the Anambra gubernatorial contest. But expressing his preference for electronic transmission of results, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the commission will use its new technological device to upload polling unit level results to its central result viewing portal.

“Nigerians that have access to internet facilities can log in and view the results as they are being uploaded. For this, we have commenced elaborate voter education and publicity activities in the State,” he said at an interactive session. Addressing stakeholders on Wednesday in Awka, the Anambra State capital on the commission’s readiness for the poll, Prof. Yakubu said INEC has literally accomplished the 14 items listed in the timetable for the election released about 11 months ago, adding that it has diligently implemented every activity on schedule.

The INEC chairman said nonsensitive materials have already been delivered to the 21 local government areas of the atate and that the sensitive materials are secure in the branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in Awka to be distributed on the morning of the election He said: “I want to assure all voters in Anambra State that in designing the sensitive materials for the election, the Commission has introduced additional visible and invisible security features, including different colour codes. “Materials have also been customized by local government areas and polling units.

Let me therefore warn those who may attempt to compromise the process that we have put in place sufficient safeguards to detect counterfeits. “We are also determined to prosecute perpetrators of electoral malpractice, including any election duty staff found to be complicit. The choice of the next governor of Anambra State is in the hands of the eligible voters and their will must prevail.” He disclosed that Anambra State will make history as the first governorship election in Nigeria in which the commission will deploy the Biometric Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) device.

“This new device replaces the Smart Card Reader (SCR) used in previous elections since 2015. We are satisfied with the pilot deployment of the BVAS in the Isoko South I State Constituency Bye-election in Delta State on 11th September 2021. “The BVAS has the dual capacity for fingerprint and facial authentication of voters. This is to guard against voting by identity theft where one person uses another person’s Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) to vote using the incident form. With this development, the use of the incident form is abol-ished. No voter without a genuine PVC will vote. No voter who has not been successfully accredited electronically using the BVAS will vote.

“At the same time, the BVAS is also equipped with a camera. Therefore, it has the capacity to snap Polling Unit level result and upload same to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal so that citizens can view results as election is concluded in each Polling Unit. Therefore, there is no need for the Z-Pad since its functions have been embedded in the BVAS. “I am glad to report that all the BVAS required for the election on Saturday have been configured and delivered to Anambra State. Election duty staff have also been trained on the use of the device and we have sufficient technical staff to respond to any glitches that may occur,” he said. On the concern about the availability of PVCs for new registrants in Anambra State, he said: “At the end of the recent Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise, a total of 138,802 citizens completed the registration.

“After cleaning up the data, the commission identified and archived 62,698 multiple registrants. Consequently, the number of valid registrants is 76,104. This figure has been added to 5,674 requests for transfer, update of voter information and replacement of lost or damaged PVCs, bringing the total of valid registrations to 81,774.”

He disclosed further that an additional 1,112 polling units were established in Anambra State in addition to the existing 4,608 locations. This brings the total number of polling units in the State to 5,720. He also stressed that INEC’s commitment to transparency has made it compiled a comprehensive list of all the polling units without voters as well as those having under 50 registered voters. While the Commission has refuted viral media report that hundreds of ad hoc workers recruited for the Anambra election resigned en-mass, it said it has adequate manpower for the conduct of November 6 governorship election. With the satisfactory verdicts the commission got in previous lone elections after 2019, it is expected that the electoral body will replicate the similar performance in tomorrow’s poll

 

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