Despite Council of State position that the scheduled February Polls should proceeds as planned, indications emerging from the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) are that the Chairman, Professor Atahiru Jega will not oppose the postponement of the election if the Jonathan’s administration makes a suggestion to that effect.
Indication to this emerged from the presentation made by Professor Jega before theCouncil of State’s meeting which held at the presidential Villa Thursday, just as the INEC chairman requested for more time on the basis of inability by INEC to meet the logistics for holding the polls.
Reports have it that Jega in his presentation spoke ambiguously at the meeting, suggesting that although INEC was prepared to go ahead with the poll and could still hold it, it would notwithstanding be better if more time are granted for it to address its more challenging problems.
Jega at the meeting listed the poor distribution of the Permanent Voters Cards, the security challenges in the north-eastern parts of the country as well a strong advise to INEC by the National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki, with insistence that the elections are better shifted forward for 6 weeks on security matters.
Jega briefed Council of State members that so far, a total of 45,098,876 representing 65.81% of the total number had been collected by voters, whereas about 34% of the PVCs were yet to be collected by the voters.
He however asked the meeting to determine what rate or percentage of collection would be acceptable for an election to take place, just as he suggested 51%; 75%; or 90.
He said whatever percentage is agreed upon, would imply a date for the election could not be fixed until it is attained.
He also stated at the meeting, “Yesterday, for example, we received a letter from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), informing us of recent developments in 4 of the North East States, stating that safety and security cannot be guaranteed during the proposed election period, and strongly advising that INEC considers rescheduling the elections by at least 6 weeks, within the provisions of the electoral legal framework, and within which time span it is hoped to restore sufficient normalcy for elections to hold.
“This is a new development that INEC cannot certainly ignore or take lightly”.
Below Is What Jega Said At The Meeting
* There are PVCs, which have been stolen before they were collected by their owners, or which were damaged, or which were for people who have done transfers, and which the Commission has decided to reproduce.
In any case the commission will appreciate advice on this matter.
The commission ordered for the production and delivery of 182,000 customized CRs, sufficient for 150, 829 voting points (VPs), plus redundancies. Out of this number, 154,500 have since been delivered and distributed to the states and FCT. The remaining balance of 27,500 has been produced and shipped and is expected on Wednesday February 4th (* The Whistle notes that Jega briefed Council on the 5th and the materials were yet to arrive).
In the highly unlikely event that a CR fails, we have enough spares to deploy before the end of accreditation at 1PM and adjust the time to gain lost time. (* The Whistle notes this is an Entirely Questionable Statement)
There were delays in respect of sending the materials to Borno and Yobe states, because we have to keep them longer in the Zonal store until adequate security arrangements have been made to transport them to the states. A couple of months ago, INEC’s State office in Yobe was damaged by insurgents and 11 Hilux vehicles carted away.
Although timelines have been missed in respect of the supply/delivery of some of the non sensitive materials to the states, in general.
Recruitment and Training of Ad hoc (Temporary) election Personnel
Given that larger number of Ad hoc Staff will be used in 2015 compared with 2011, the training his slightly more challenging.
With the benefit of hindsight, and given the new technology of PVC and CR, we could do with more days of especially hands-on training for POs and APOs. Regrettably we can’t do that due to funding constraints. Also a more decentralized, LGA level training with smaller numbers on classroom would have been ideal.
Public Enlightenment, Sensitization and Voter Education
In a country the size and complexity of Nigeria, public enlightenment, sensitization and voter education are circumscribed by enormous challenges.
However, a lot more still needs to be done by all stakeholders to intensify voter education as we get close to the dates of the elections.
For things under the commissions control, our accomplishments are to such degree that we can conduct the election, in spite of the identifiable challenges.
Consequently, although our state of preparedness may not be 100% or perfect, and although a bit more time of additional preparation would enable us improve and perfect the current level of preparedness, we believed that we’re ready for the elections as planned.
No matter the extent of our readiness if there are serious security concerns the successful conduct of free, fair, credible and peaceful elections would be greatly jeopardized.
This is a new development that INEC cannot certainly ignore or take lightly.