Saturday is around the corner, the Presidential and National Assembly elections are around the corner, the candidates are rounding up their campaign (actually, they rounded up their campaign about a week ago) and the electorate is waiting eagerly, and the eyes of the world are on Nigeria.
However, this should have not been the case, by now, the first set of elections in this electoral cycle was suppose to have been concluded with winners and losers declared long before now, whoever, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), postponed the poll billed for last Saturday.
The development angered President Buhari who fell short of calling the electoral body incompetent.
“After the elections, we have to know exactly what happened and who is responsible. Otherwise, our efforts to make sure that this system is acceptable would have been eroded. The constitution and the law protected INEC. But they must not take us for granted.
“If for example, the National Assembly refused to approve what they wanted; INEC would have had moral reasons for why they couldn’t perform. If the time of four years of election was not constitutionally obeyed by the government, INEC would have a case.
“But we don’t understand the reason for this inefficiency and we have to go into details after the elections to find out who is responsible,” President Buhari said during a meeting with top members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on Monday.
However, INEC has now announced that they are ready for the elections telling the candidates and Nigeriains to get ready for the exercise. Speaking to reporters, INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated the commission has finally overcome the logistic issues that made it call off the elections last week.
“Last Saturday, the commission, after an 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,” Yakubu said.
“Let me, therefore, present to you the level of implementation so far achieved as follows; by 4 p.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 INEC boss added.
“The movement of materials to LGAs for batching according to towards and polling units shall take place on Wednesday, 20 and Thursday, 21 February 2019.
“All Registration Area Centres (RACs) are to be activated by 9 a.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 7 a.m. on Saturday 23, February 2019. The opening of polls nationwide will take place at 8 a.m. on Saturday, February 23, 2019.”
“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,” he continued.
“The Smart Card Readers (SCRs) are configured to only open for use at 8 a.m. on Election Day, and to automatically shut down by 10 p.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 finished.
Speaking on reports that some of the top management of the commission is now under investigation by the DSS, Yakubu denied such occurrence stating that his team have not been harassed in any way.
“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,” Yakubu said.
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