The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has appealed to all registered voters in Osun State, South West Nigeria who are yet to collect their PVCs to seize the opportunity of the additional measures to do so.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu made the call Tuesday at the State’s Governorship election stakeholders’ meeting, held at the Atlantis Civic centre, Osogbo, the State capital.
The INEC boss revealed that many of the PVCs have already been collected by citizens, adding that of the 1,955,657 registered voters in Osun State, 1,479,595 (or 76%) have collected their cards as at Sunday 10th July 2022.
He disclosed that INEC was also updating its records to provide detailed breakdown of PVCs collected by polling units, promising that this would be concluded and made available on Friday 15th July 2022.
He indicated that it was important because the total number of PVCs collected will be used to determine the margin of lead principle, as against the total number of registered voters in line with our Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections 2022 derived from the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
Prof. Yakubu told stakeholders: “To underscore our commitment to an inclusive, credible and transparent electoral process, the Commission is deploying assistive devices for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) to have a more pleasant voting experience on Election Day. Magnifying glasses, Braille Ballot Guide and Posters for voters with hard of hearing conditions will be deployed at polling unit level in areas of need based on data collected in collaboration with the PwD community. Similarly, our revised Regulations and Guidelines provide for priority to be accorded at polling units to PwDs without waiting in long queues during voting as is the case with elderly people, pregnant women and nursing mothers.
“Beyond these measures, we also want to make PwDs to get more involved in election administration like everyone else. In this regard, the 2022 Osun State Governorship election will also make history, being the first election in which INEC is deploying PwDs as ad hoc staff. Thirty-five (35) serving NYSC members with one form of disability or another have been identified, trained and engaged as ad hoc staff at polling unit level. I appeal to all stakeholders to cooperate with, and protect them, as well as all other ad hoc staff, in our effort to make our electoral process more inclusive and participatory”.
INEC, he disclosed has continued to deploy technology in the electoral process both as a matter of practice and a requirement of the law, indicating that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) will be deployed for voter accreditation and uploading of election results on the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal on Election Day. Steps have been taken to ensure that the BVAS machines function optimally during voter accreditation based on lessons learnt from the conduct of recent elections.
He recalled a few weeks ago, mock accreditation exercise was conducted in polling units across the State. I personally observed the exercise in Osogbo and Boripe LGAs in Osun Central as well as Ede South and Egbedore LGAs in Osun West Senatorial Districts, adding that he visited Ife Central, Ife East and Ife North LGA offices in Osun East Senatorial District.
“We are encouraged by the successful outcome of the mock exercise and the level of preparations by our offices. We have also trained enough Registration Area Technical Support Staff (RATECHs) and made adequate transportation arrangements for their rapid response in the event of reported glitches on Election Day.
“I cannot conclude my remarks without addressing a matter of serious concern to our elections. Here, I am referring to sundry violations of our electoral law, including the diabolical practice of vote buying in which voters are financially induced to vote one way or another. It is obvious that the more the Commission and other stakeholders work hard to progressively improve the quality of national elections in Nigeria, the more some retrogressive elements try to undermine the process.
“While we will continue to work with the security and anti-corruption agencies to confront this challenge, our effort will be given a boost by the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal as recommended by the Uwais Committee in 2009, reinforced by the Lemu Committee in 2011 and the Nnamani Committee in 2017, Prof Yakubu stated.
He expressed delight that the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal Bill is under consideration of the National Assembly, establishing that INEC supports the initiative and appeals to the National Assembly (NASS) for a speedy conclusion and passage of the Bill into law.
In addition, INEC boss informed that the Commission has accredited Polling Agents nominated by political parties for the 3,763 polling units, 332 Ward collation centres, 30 Local Government Area collation centres and the State Collation Centre where the final declaration of result will be made, noting that as an indication of the intense national and international interest in the 2022 Osun State Governorship Election, 87 Observer groups (79 domestic and 8 international) deploying a total of 7,790 field observers have been accredited for the election. Similarly, 94 media organisations (92 national and 2 international) deploying 624 journalists have been accredited to cover the election.
“On Election Day, the national headquarters of INEC in Abuja will monitor the election throughout the State. Our Zoom Situation Room will be activated. We are working to ensure that accredited observers and the media are invited to join us at intervals to provide live reports from the field. At the same time, citizens can contact us on our various platforms such as the toll-free INEC Citizens Contact Centre (ICCC) telephone line in addition to our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts” Prof Yakubu requested”.
Earlier in his speech, Prof Yakubu stated he had repeatedly said in previous engagements with stakeholders, that INEC would not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate, maintaining that the Commission’s focus would be on the processes and procedures as provided by law, adding that so far, the electoral body have successfully implemented 12 out of 14 activities contained in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the election.
The Chairman also informed that the Commission had several engagements with the security agencies at national, State and Local Government levels, adding that it has consulted with stakeholders.
“We sought for, and received, the blessings of Royal Fathers and religious leaders. We have recruited, trained and carefully screened all categories of ad-hoc staff to be deployed to the field. All non-sensitive materials for the election have been delivered to all our 30 Local Government Area offices across the State.
“Voter education and sensitisation is ongoing. We have made arrangements for the transportation of personnel and materials to ensure that polling units open on schedule on Election Day. For a more effective supervision of the process, we are deploying five National Commissioners, twelve Resident Electoral Commissioners and many senior officials to support our State office here in Osun to deliver credible elections” Yakubu disclosed.
Prof Yakubu announced the signing of the Peace Accord by parties and candidates under the auspices of the National Peace Committee chaired by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar GCFR tomorrow at the same venue.
He restated that the Commission has taken every step to ensure that the election slated for this weekend is free, fair, transparent, credible, inclusive and conclusive.