As the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) prepares for the conduct of the Saturday, December 5, 2015 governorship election in Bayelsa state, the Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has disclosed that INEC will deploy other technologies for the election.
Addressing stakeholders at Tamara Hall, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, the INEC Chairman said: “INEC is deploying other technological innovations which will guaranty the integrity of the process and the outcome.”
Professor Yakubu, however, used the occasion to assure the people of Bayelsa and Nigerians that INEC will provide a level playing field for all and sundry.
“I am aware that in conducting election, it is to INEC that most Nigerians rightly place their highest expectation. Let me reiterate that INEC will play its part as an impartial Commission committed to free, fair and credible process”.
Professor Yakubu disclosed that a total of 663,639 voters were eligible to vote in the Saturday, December 5, 2015 governorship election. The figure which he said was higher than those registered to vote in the general elections was as a result of the recently conducted Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) for those who attained the age of 18 and for those who could not register for whatever reason(s) during the 2015 general elections or the case of intra-state and inter-state transfers.
“In all, a total of 663,639 voters will vote on Saturday. This is our register up to date. This figure is over 52,000 higher than those registered to vote in the general election early this year. The increase is as a result of CVR for those that have attained the age of 18years or those who could not register for whatever reason prior to the general elections”.
He further stated that the use of the Smart Card Reader was mandatory as it had passed the four critical tests. He said: “The use of the Smart Card Reader is therefore mandatory. It is not optional. There will be no exemption on the use of the Card Reader. All Card Readers deployed have passed our four critical tests. They have been checked, they have been tested, they have been configured and they have been charged”.
He added that: “The success of any election depends not only on the good planning and effective implementation of INEC but to a large extent, key stakeholders, political parties, traditional rulers, religious leaders, media, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), voters, Observers, and youths”. He urged all stakeholders to play by the rules to ensure a smooth conduct of the governorship election.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Mustapha Mohammed Lecky, a National Commissioner, said: “The purpose of this meeting is clear as it serves as a build up to free, fair and credible gubernatorial election in Bayelsa state come this Saturday. We are also glad of the opportunity that this meeting provides for us to re-commit the existing peace pact between political parties.”
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Bayelsa State, Baritor Lenu Kpagih, appealed to stakeholders to desist from any form of violence to ensure a smooth and peaceful election.
“I wish to appeal to you to play by the rules and ensure that our experience at the last general election does not repeat itself, where ad-hoc staff and other election officers were either held hostage or put to permanent disability.”
He also drew the attention of stakeholders to the approved 2015 election guidelines for accreditation. “I want to draw the attention of all to the fact that the Commission has adopted the deployment of E-Smart Card Readers in line with the 2015 general election guidelines for the purpose of accreditation of voters for this particular election and this is with no option for manual accreditation”, he stated.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Solomon Arase, assured the people of Bayelsa of adequate security before, during and after the election. He said: “the Police Force under my watch will never allow violence during elections. As Bayelsa prepares for the election, the Police will provide a level playing field and security for all”.
IGP Arase also said that: “in order to guaranty the security of lives and properties in the state, I will deploy a DIG of Police from Abuja, 3 Commissioners of Police, 3 Assistant Commissioners of Police to the 3 Senatorial districts.”
He said that a total of 13,000 police personnel will be deployed across the state alongside other security agencies. He disclosed:
“Other security agencies will also complement the Nigeria Police Force in the deployment plan. The Marine Unit of the Force will maximally be deployed on the water ways and creeks where an area surveillance will also be undertaken with not less than 3 helicopters”.
In his remarks, the Director General of NYSC, Brigadier General Johnson Olawunmi, represented by the NYSC State Coordinator, Bayelsa State, Mr. Anthony Ekeocha, assured that Corps members are ready to play their part in the conduct of the election.
He appealed to political parties and their supporters not to intimidate Corps members and called on INEC and security agencies to ensure that the security of Corps members was guaranteed.
Speaking on behalf of the Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers, HRH, King Alfred Diette Spiff, Chairman, Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Council, called on all voters to come out en masse to exercise their franchise. He also urged INEC to put all necessities in place to ensure a hitch free election.