After the tongue lashing by virtually all segments of the public for last Saturday’s last minute postponement of the presidential and National Assembly election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday began the public confidence rebuilding process, telling Nigerians that it is now ready to hold the poll rescheduled for Saturday nationwide.
Its Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, in his first progress report told the media in Abuja that the hitches that caused the poll shift have been cleared and that the fresh time-lines for the conduct of the election are now being met.
Specifically, he said the commission has achieved 98 per cent reconfiguration of its smart card readers, saying it is a significant milestone towards the conduct of the election and assured that the remaining two per cent would be completed today.
Responding to media reports that a couple of its senior officials are being quizzed by the Department of State Security (DSS), raising fears that the commission’s work might be hampered, Yakubu denied the reports and said no director or national commissioner of the commission has been arrested by the DSS.
However, Akelicious’s checks revealed that six senior staff members of the commission, including Professor Okechukwu Ibeano, Mr. Festus Okoye, Mr. Osaze Uzi and others, were invited by DSS for a chat.
But Yakubu stated: “No commissioner of the commission was picked up by any security agency; no house of any commissioner of INEC was raided; no any commissioner of INEC has been picked up by security agencies. The particular commissioner you are referring to that was mentioned in the social media is as we speak, in his office in the commission. Similarly, no six directors were picked up by any security agencies.”
The chairman revealed that by 4p.m. on Monday, all issues relating to the delivery of the materials were identified and virtually addressed.
According to him, “Last Saturday, the commission, after extensive review of our preparedness for the 2019 general election, decided that it was necessary to reschedule the elections by one week.
‘’As I explained to stakeholders, we were constrained to shift the polls due to severe challenges and lapses we experienced with arrival and distribution of sensitive materials, as well as the fires that gutted some of our offices in quick succession, destroying several election materials.”
He said INEC had identified six areas covering three broad areas like deployment of materials, movement of personnel and reconfiguration of smart card readers.
Yakubu said: “Let me, therefore, present to you the level of implementation so far achieved as follows; by 4p.m. yesterday, all issues relating to the delivery of the materials were identified and virtually addressed. Ballot papers, result sheets and a host of non-sensitive materials are now in location across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“Our state offices commenced the process of inviting stakeholders to the Central Bank of Nigeria to examine the retrieved materials deployed last week and to witness the batching of materials according to local government areas. This is on-going at the moment and is expected to be completed today, Tuesday 19, February 2019.
“The movement of materials to LGAs for batching according to wards and polling units shall take place on Wednesday, 20 and Thursday, 21 February 2019.
“All Registration Area Centres (RACs) are to be activated by 9a.m. on Friday, February 22, 2019. Personnel and materials should be at the RACs by mid-day on Friday, February 22, 2019.
“Refresher training for ad hoc personnel should take place at the RACs on Friday, February 22, 2019. Personnel and materials must arrive at the Polling Units latest 7a.m. on Saturday 23, February 2019. Opening of polls nationwide will take place at 8a.m. on Saturday, February 23, 2019.”
Explaining further on the rationale for a week long postponement of the polls, the INEC Chairman said; “You would recall that in my address to stakeholders, I mentioned that we intended to reschedule the elections for just 24 hours to enable us to deliver the final batch of sensitive materials for the elections.
‘’However, our ICT team notified us that it would require more time to reconfigure the Smart Card Readers in time for the elections. Let me explain why. The Smart Card Readers (SCRs) are configured to only open for use at 8a.m. on Election Day, and to automatically shut down by 10p.m.
‘’This is designed to forestall any illegal use of the SCRs before the appointed time of elections. There are roughly 180,000 SCRs to be deployed for the elections and the ICT team said that they would require 5-6 days to complete the configuration.
‘’I am glad to say that as at today, about 98 per cent of the SCRs have been reconfigured and we are confident that by tomorrow all would be ready, which is a day earlier than scheduled. ”
The INEC chairman also stated that campaigns for the presidential and National Assembly elections shall now end at midnight on Thursday, February 21, 2019, while campaigns for the governorship, state assembly and FCT Area Council elections shall end at midnight Thursday, March 7, 2019.
He explained that preparations for governorship, state assembly and FCT Area Council elections are well underway, saying already, the sensitive materials for the elections have started arriving at various locations for onward movement to various CBN branches across the country.
Yakubu further stated: “Indeed, some of these materials arriving through our airports have been erroneously construed by some people as materials for the elections holding this weekend. I want to reassure you all that all materials for the rescheduled presidential and National Assembly elections next Saturday are already in the states ready for deployment to LGAs, Ward and Polling Units.
‘’We have learnt a lesson from the preparations for the elections holding this weekend. For this reason, we shall start the movement of materials for the next elections early to ensure that nothing disrupts our process.
“While we fully understand the disappointment and even anger that followed that rescheduling of the elections on February 16, I wish to appeal to stakeholders to be more dispassionate and circumspect in their comments in order not to overheat the polity.
‘’The commission is focusing on the elections to be held on February 23 and 9th March 2019 to ensure that they are free, fair and credible. We urge all Nigerians to participate fully in the elections, notwithstanding the disappointment caused by the rescheduling of dates.”
He said the commission would continue to speak to Nigerians daily to let them know the extent of readiness of the commission.
JAMB reveals how 2019 UTME will be conducted
Ahead of Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, Registrar, Joint Admission and Matriculations Board (JAMB), said the board has introduced new innovations for successful conduct of 2019 UTME.
NAN reports that Oloyede made this known in Abuja on Monday at the meeting of critical stakeholders on strategic planning and preparations for supervision and evaluation of administration of 2019 UTME slated to hold between April 11 and April 15.
He said a robust item backed with appropriate safeguard had been developed by moving toward open examination with one million questions per subject which would soon be effected.
“A separate indicator had also been created for the deaf (mute) to differentiate them for special attention at the examination centre. Efforts are on to provide option of special centres or mainstreaming for the blind.
“We now have live report on centres that registered any candidate, the time the candidate was registered, who registered the candidate, computer system used, the location of registration.
“All these are done through our enhanced monitoring system. I want to warn candidates expected to sit for its examination to ensure their biometrics were taken and verified or risk sitting for the examination,’’ he said.
He called on candidates to comply with the rules of engagement governing the registration and examination of the UTME.
According to him, biometric verification will be the only mode for admittance of candidates into the examination centres.
He added that increasing threat of identity fraud during the UTME before the advent of BVM necessitated its introduction for capturing the biometrics of candidates to counter fraud.
“Any candidate that cannot be verified by the Biometric Verification Mode (BVM) must not be allowed to take the examination under any guise.
“All candidates whose fingerprints could not be captured during registration from centres across the country were brought to JAMB Headquarters and were registered appropriately.
“In other words, exemption mode is not allowed for any candidate. Therefore, no biometric verification, no examination,” Oloyede warned.
The registrar added that the use of email/password would not be allowed by cyber cafe operators as it had now been classified as an offence for cyber cafe to ask for password before rendering services.
Oloyede said the board held an international round-table on cheating devices in December 2017 where various technology devices used for examination further said that Automated Teller Machine (ATM) was added to the list of prohibited items during its examinations.
He said other items prohibited are wristwatches, recorders, earpieces, mobile phones, Bluetooth devices, smart lenses, erasers, smart buttons and spy reading glasses, among others.
The registrar said the board had approved the use of 708 Computer Based Test (CBT) centres across the country for the conduct of the examination.
He noted that the names of impersonators in the last 10 years would soon be published to serve as deterrent to others, adding added that about 1.99 million candidates had registered for the examination.
He called on the candidates to ensure they comply with the rules and regulations of the examinations
Govt shut down three institutions with reasons
The Governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola, has ordered the closure of three tertiary institutions in the state following a protest which turned violent in Ilesa.
Oyetola condemning the incident said the closure was with immediate effect.
The state government announced this in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Adeniyi Adesina.
The statement reads: “Following the unwarranted destruction of public property by irate members of the public in Ilesa, Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola on Monday night ordered the closure of three higher institutions of learning.
“The affected schools are Osun State College of Education, Ilesa, Osun State College of Health Technology, Ilesa, and Osun State College of Technology, Esa Oke.
“The closure is with immediate effect, the government would not hesitate to take further drastic action, should the need arises in order to protect the lives and properties of the people.”
Governor Oyetola further assured residents of the state of safety, adding that the government is on top of the security situation in Ilesa and in all parts of the state.
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