Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Yakubu Mahmoud, has provided a fresh update on how far the commission has prepared for the off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States.
Reports had it that in 24 hours, 5,169,692 Nigerians who collected their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) in the affected states would be heading to their different polling units to elect their next governors.
The INEC boss noted that this is the first time in Nigeria’s history that these elections are held on the same day and across three geopolitical zones of the country: North Central (Kogi), South East (Imo), and South-South (Bayelsa).
He called on INEC officials (both regular and ad hoc) to demonstrate the highest level of patriotism and professionalism, stressing that the Commission is not a political party and has no candidate in the election.
“Our responsibility is to safeguard the process and ensure a level playing field for all political parties and candidates,” he said in a statement he personally signed.
“The choice of who becomes the Governor of Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States is entirely in the hands of voters.”
“We have delivered all sensitive and non-sensitive materials for the elections. The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) has been configured for deployment to polling units as the only means of voter verification and fingerprint/facial biometric authentication of voters.
“Polling Unit results will be uploaded to the INC Result Viewing (IRe) portal. All election-duty officials have been trained.
“Arrangements have been made for land and maritime transportation to enable us to commence voting on schedule. In spite of the extremely difficult terrain and physical infrastructure in some locations, we are determined to ensure that our officials are there waiting for voters, rather than the voters waiting for our arrival.
“For these off-cycle elections, the Commission is deploying two National Commissioners, nine (9) Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), and Administrative Secretaries (ASs), as well as additional staff from different states to each of the three states to support the process. They will be deployed across the senatorial zones in the States.
“Election is a multi-stakeholder responsibility. As with every election, lessons have been learned from recent elections. We will continue to ensure free, fair, and credible and inclusive elections, but INEC cannot do it alone.