Ahead of the September 19, governorship elections in Edo State, the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has called on the commission’s officials in the 18 local government areas (LGAs), in the state to be neutral and professional in handling polls.
The INEC Charman made the call during a meeting with the Electoral Officers (EOs), Heads of departments, heads of Units and other members of staff of the commission on Friday in Benin.
According to him, “We are really happy to be here, we have heard so much about the preparation about Edo election and we thought we should come and see things for ourselves.
“As part of our visit, we are meeting with members of staff particularly the field commanders who are the EOs in the 18 local government areas of the state.
“I am here to draw your attention to a few things you need to know. Neutrality is absolutely very important.
“I am excited about what the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), said about neutrality and professionalism. We are not supporting any political party or candidate and we are not also against any political party or candidate either.
“Our concern is the integrity of the entire process. The choice of who becomes the governor of Edo is entirely in the hands of Edo people.”
Yakubu also said that the commission will guide and jealously protect the process.
The INEC boss also informed the EOs that the commission had introduced new innovation in order to deepen transparency of the results management process.
He noted that the commission had introduced new results viewing portal which was piloted in Nasarawa Central state Constituency bye-elections.
”In addition to the smart card readers for voter authentication, there will be new tablets with camera in all the polling units and voting points.
“At the close of voting, sorting, counting and recording of ballots, pictures of form EC8A will be taken and transmitted to a dedicated portal.
“So that Nigerians can view the polling units results even before a declaration is made. We did it in Nasarawa bye-election.
“This is the next major election, so you are going to set the pace for major elections. We look forward to the availability of the form EC8As on the portal for the public to view on election day,” Yakubu added.
The Chairman also emphasised the need for INEC officials to be punctual at their various polling units and voting points and must begin the process at the stipulated time of 8.30am and close voting by 2.30pm.
According to him, you have to address the issue of logistics particularly transportation. You have to engage the vehicles and boat owners early enough.
“Please take note that boats and vehicles should only carry 50 per cent of the installed passenger capacity because of social distancing and COVID-19 policy, which means you will be needing more means of transportation.
“I am confident that you will not let the commission down. One of the lessons we learnt in the 2016 Edo governorship election is that we must speedily conclude the process and declare the results in good time.
“The longer it takes to declare the results, the more problematic it becomes for us to manage public perception.
“So you have to get logistics right in order to speedily conclude the process.”
Earlier, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr Johnson Alalibo, said the card readers for the election had been supplied and were being configured for the election.
He noted that the commission’s mantra for the conduct of the Edo governorship election was professionalism, neutrality and non- partisanship.