The Independent National Electoral Commission,(INEC), says it has commenced the process of recruiting and training 26,000 ad -hoc staff for the conduct of Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the disclosure in Abuja on Wednesday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on INEC.
He said the ad -hoc staff comprised members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and other Nigerians.
On security, he said the commission was working with security agencies and other stakeholders in the concerned states to ensure adequate provision of security.
He said INEC had also made provision for funding of the elections in the 2019 budget, noting that the commission had no complain on funding the elections.
Earlier, the Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Sen .Kabiru Gaya (APC Kano) said Senate would begin process of amending the Electoral Act.
“The very essence of this maiden meeting is to inform the INEC officials and the general public that the committee is prepared to once again, kick start the process of amending the Electoral Act No. 6. 2010.”
He said the amendment was to correct the loopholes noticed during the 2019 general elections and strengthen the operation of INEC to discharge its constitutional responsibilities.
This, he said, would promote transparency in the electoral processes via effective electoral laws that would guarantee conduct of free, fair, credible and transparent elections in Nigeria.
“We must bear in mind that credible democracy is anchored on credible electoral laws.
“That is why all hands must be on deck to fashion out effective and credible laws that will fortify and guarantee our electoral process, which the legislature is determined to achieve,“ he said.
He said the committee was aware of the challenges observed by key stakeholders during the last general elections.
“One of such challenges is the issue of having too many registered political parties.
“It is my view that we trim them to a maximum of 5 political parties, based on stringent conditions for registration.
“We will discuss as a committee and extend to public hearing subsequently.
“Other challenges are identified culture of electoral offences- impunity, electoral violence, vote buying, snatching of election materials by thugs, inducement, corruption by electoral officers and too many pre and post-election cases in our courts.”
Gaya said there was need to also propose the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission, to reduce infractions and enable INEC conduct free, fair and credible elections.
“The issue of INEC staff welfare and wellbeing must be looked into by increasing their salaries and allowances to keep them motivated and reduce possible inducement by some unscrupulous politicians.”