he Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the police commands in the states of Edo, Delta and Bayelsa, have expressed readiness for a hitch-free 2023 general election.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) in the three states, who disclosed this in separate interviews, said that they remained undaunted in the face of increasing attacks on the commission’s facilities nationwide.
Mr Monday Udoh-Tom, the Delta INEC REC, while expressing the commission’s readiness for election, said all necessary arrangements had been concluded to ensure that it was hitch-free.
”In the last eight months, the commission has embarked on various sensitisation programmes aimed at ensuring that it conducts free, fair and credible election.
”Some of such sensitisation programmes include Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) and the collection of the ongoing Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
”I can also recall that the commission, recently displayed the Voters Register for electorate. The essence of all these is to ensure free, fair and credible elections,” he said.
Udoh-Tom said that the commission had also engaged civil society organisations (CSOs), security agencies, media as well as other stakeholders from time to time in as part of measures to bring all stakeholders up to speed on its preparedness ahead of the election in the state.
The REC, who said the commission would not be intimidated by any threat, however, called on all stakeholders to continue to join hands with INEC in ensuring peaceful election.
Also expressing confidence in INEC’s level of readiness in Delta, Chief Fidelis Adaka, the Secretary General, Association of Justices of Peace in the state, said, ”INEC is prepared for the election.
”The recent upsurge in crime especially attacks on INEC facilities will not affect the election, because the situation was worse than this in 2015.
”I must also say that Nigerians are ready for the elections.”
Speaking on INEC’s readiness in Bayelsa, an official, who spoke with NAN on the condition of anonymity said the commission had conducted a six-day training programme in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa capital, for chairmen of political parties, security agencies and critical stakeholders ahead of the election.
He quoted the state REC Dr Emmanuel Hart, during the programme as saying that the performance of civic responsibility by the electorate without hindrance was dependent on an environment that was safe and secured for the delivery of the commission’s electoral services.
He said the REC during the training, made a presentation entitled ‘Electoral Act and the Role of Police on Election Security’, which encapsulated in detailed form, what were required of critical stakeholders including the electorate on the election.
While he harped on safety of the electorate and INEC officials and materials, Hart said the effective discharge of the responsibility of the police during the election would lead to a free, fair and credible election, thereby increasing voters’ confidence in the electoral process.
According to the REC, the role of the police towards creating a conducive atmosphere at voting centres will be crucial to the conduct of a free, fair and credible election on Feb. 25 and March 11, respectively
A security expert, Mr Samuel Asuquo, also said the current synergy between INEC and security agencies should be sustained to increase the electorate’s confidence in the electoral process.
“This synergy, if sustained will build confidence among the people and reduce incidence of voter apathy.’’
He advised INEC to do all what it could within the law to ensure it conducted an election that would be acceptable by majority of Nigerians and the international community.
Asuquo also commended the state Commissioner of Police, CP Ben Okolo’s assurances that the command’s personnel would provide the needed security coverage for INEC officials, materials and the electorate without fear of intimidation.
He said they have no other option but to comply with what the electoral laws say. The police and other security agencies will apply the laws and conform to them.
In Edo, the chairman of Zenith Labour Party ZLP, Mr Bishop Akhalamhe, expressed INEC’s preparedness and determination to conduct the February general elections in the state flowing from the series of engagements so far.
He said the destruction of INEC facilities across the country would not stop the upcoming general elections.
“In our meetings with INEC, the REC has told us that they are ready and we believe them. We have seen the efforts they have put into preparation for the elections.
“They have told us that they are ready and we are holding them to their words.
“People thought election will not hold in Anambra state but with the resilience and commitment of the various security agencies, the election held.
“So if the federal government is serious about conducting these elections, the elections will hold. When government is committed to a cause, it gets it done.
“It is even a good thing that the attacks are happening now. It will give the security agencies an opportunity to look inwards and think outside the box for better service delivery on the deal day,’’ he said.
On security, the Edo Police Public Relations Officer, SP Chidi Nwabuzor, who announced the readiness of the command to NAN, said they had mapped out a plan called “operation order to ensure hitch free 2023 General Election.’’
According to him, “Edo state police command from the beginning of the Ember months which was mapped out what we called Operation Order.
“Operation Order’’ is a total plan towards the 2023 general elections, Every personnel in Edo state police command is involved in the election duty.
“And on election day, the whole Edo state and the polling units will be policed to ensure that the voters will have their freedom in a peaceful atmosphere to carry out their civic duties, to vote whoever they want to vote for.”
He, however, assured that vote buying would be a thing of the past come 2023 general elections, adding that the Edo commissioner of police, CP Mohammed Dankwara, message is “the command will not stand to see it, will not stand to hear it or stand to perceive vote buying during the election.’’