By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja, Sept. 13, 2021
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has advised political parties featuring in the Anambra governorship election to put their houses in order and carry out responsible campaigns.
Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, gave the advice when he spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.
Okoye urged political parties to carry out responsible campaigns in consonance with safety regulations as well as consider the security situation in the country.
He advised parties to seek clarification from the commission on matters of national security.
Okoye said that the commission was working hard to deliver on its mandate of ensuring credible Anambra governorship election.
He urged all stakeholders to cooperate with INEC, saying the conduct and delivery of a good election was a multi stakeholders’ venture.
“The commission is working assiduously to get its facilities and processes ready for the election.
“The commission has completed the first phase of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) in Anambra wherein it devolved to the 326 Registration Areas as well as the 21 local government offices and the state office.
“The commission is finalising arrangements to deploy its Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to Anambra and various enlightenment and voter education programmes are ongoing in the state.
“The commission is moving fast to rebuild its Anambra collation center, storage facilities and office buildings and facilities burnt or damaged by arsonists,’’ Okoye added.
He recalled that INEC had informed Nigerians that prior to the attack on its facilities, it had delivered over 50 per cent of the non-sensitive materials required for the conduct of the election to the Anambra office.
He noted that all the materials already delivered including 326 generating sets retrieved from all the Registration Areas and seven utility vehicles meant for electoral operations were destroyed by attackers.
“We are encouraged that contractors are now working day and night to get the facilities ready for the election.
“The procurement of materials for elections and other electoral purposes goes through the public procurement process.
“Some of these materials are stored in the zonal stores of the commission as some of them like ballot boxes and cubicles are reusable,’’ he said.
Okoye also recalled that on Sept. 9 INEC issued a statement stating that gunmen attacked its state office in Awka and that the damage to the facility was extensive.
He said that movable materials, including 50 per cent of the non-sensitive materials already delivered for the election were destroyed.
He recalled that INEC further stated that while it was making efforts to rebuild the physical facilities, it took a pragmatic decision to distribute the replaced non-sensitive materials from its South East Zonal Stores in Owerri in order to meet deadlines.
“The non-sensitive materials include non-pharmaceutical COVID-19 items such as hand sanitizers and face masks, envelopes, posters, stickers, sellotapes, scissors, liquid gum and other stationery items required mainly at the polling units,” Okoye said.
He, however, said that following a review of the deadline of the repair work on the facilities, INEC was optimistic that it would be completed by the end of September.
He added that INEC was in a position to operate from its state office in Awka where the batching and distribution of all non-sensitive materials would take place.
“The commission will therefore batch and distribute all non-sensitive materials from its Anambra State office in Awka while the sensitive materials will be delivered direct to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) office in Awka.
“All the Political parties participating in the election will be invited to inspect the materials before distribution,’’ Okoye said.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had on Sunday, Sept. 12, rejected the alleged move by INEC to use its facility in Owerri for the storage of electoral materials for the Anambra election.
The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, urged INEC to react to allegation by Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra that it plans to recruit returning officers for the election from Imo.
Ologbondiyan said that if INEC, for any reason desired to keep the election materials in another state order than Anambra, the best choice was Enugu state.
He said the state was the best choice given the availability of a functional airport, a more secured environment with regional security formations as well as better storage facility at the state office of the CBN.