The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the commission is ready to conduct the Edo State governorship poll as scheduled for 10th September, 2016.
The Edo State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Sam Olumekun made this known at the Civil Society/INEC Dialogue on Edo State Governorship Election held at Ibeto Hotel, Abuja.
“In determining whether or not INEC is adequately prepared to conduct the September 2016 election in Edo State as scheduled, we should separate what is under the control of the Commission from what is outside its control. For the things under the Commission’s control, our accomplishments are to such a degree that we can conduct the governorship poll as scheduled for September 10th, 2016, in Edo State, in spite of identifiable challenges”.
Olumekun admitted that although the state of preparedness of the Election Management Body may not be 100% or perfect, they are “ready for the conduct of the election as planned and are rearing to go”.
The Resident Electoral Commission outlined some of the activities carried out by the commission so far to show the level of preparedness for the Edo Polls.
According to him, Continuous Voter Registration Exercise (CVR) took place from 22nd to 26th June, 2016. The display of Preliminary Register of Voters took place on the 27th of June, 2016.
“The display of the Preliminary Register of Voters was done to ensure that registrants whose details have been omitted or are incorrect during the CVR can have such entry normalized”, he said.
Olumekun further revealed that the total number of Registered Voters in Edo State before the 2016 CVR exercise is 1,791,165. The commission also registered less than 140, 000 voters during exercise.
He assured participants at the meeting that INEC would prepare and publish a Register of Voters 30 days before the election, in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). He also promised that copies of the register will be made available to all the 19 registered political parties that signify intention to take part in the exercise.
Mr. Olumekun pinpointed security as the biggest challenge facing the commission, adding that adequate security which ensures the free movement of electoral staff, voters, candidates, observers and all stakeholders on Election Day adds great credibility to the electoral process. He, however, stated that the commission has been working with the security agencies especially under the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) at the State and LGA levels in Edo State.
“INEC’s experience since the general election of 2015 is that election security may have been on the decline. We must try to balance the imperative of securing the electoral process with the need to allow voters unfettered opportunity to come out and cast their votes without any fear as a result of the presence of security personnel”, he said.
He stated that security cannot be left to INEC or security agencies alone, but must be inclusive of all other stakeholders.
“A major reason for inconclusive election is violence. Recurrent security issues such as snatching of election materials, abduction of election personnel, disruption of electoral processes by hoodlums and over zealousness on the part of parties’ supporters have since 2015 elections been on the increase. I repeat my call on you again to take on the issue of security at appropriate quarters even at international levels, if need be”.