The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to make adequate provisions for the over two million Internally Displaced Persons in the state ahead of 2023 general elections.
He made the call at a roundtable discussion, tagged; “Contemporary Security Challenges and their Effects on 2023 General Elections”, organised by the Platinum Post Newspaper on Tuesday in Abuja.
The governor, represented by Prof. Magdalene Dura, his Special Adviser on Millenium Development Goals, said INEC should create polling units at IDPs’ camps and also engage its members as ad-hoc staff during elections.
This, he said, would ensure the credibility of the elections at such centres while giving them a sense of belonging.
He also stressed the need for the Federal Government to ensure more security at the country’s borders, saying that the porous nature of the various borders had led to the infiltration of criminal elements into the country.
The Benue Governor alleged that Permanent Voters Cards are already in the wrong hands ahead of the 2023 general elections, saying there is a need for INEC to raise its game.
“There is a need for government and INEC to ensure credibility of the electoral process,” he said.
He also expressed concern over the fate of over two million IDPs in his state who, he said, had been rendered homeless as a result of insurgency.
He appealed to the Federal Government to come to the assistance of IDPs in Benue as it is doing to other IDPs in other parts of the country.
“There is lack of equity and justice in Nigeria. INEC needs to have comprehensive data on the IDPs so that they can create polling units for IDPs,” he said.
He added that since the possibility of IDPs returning to their homes to vote before the elections is slim, INEC must open discussions with them to know what they need.
The Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, who chaired the occasion, stressed the need to ensure the safety and security of voters, election personnel, materials, candidates, party agents, observers and media practitioners during the electioneering process.
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Alhaji Usman Mohammed, Ganduje called on the electorate to eschew acts of violence and other negative tendencies that could mar the conduct of the 2023 general elections.
“The importance of the topic in relation to the nation’s current security situation in the face of an election cannot be over-emphasised.
“And more so, my state, Kano, is among states in the federation, and particularly in the North that have had one security challenge or the other, which we have, with the will of God Almighty, been able to surmount.
“Kano is now one of the most peaceful states in the federation. Insecurity is one of the biggest challenges facing the conduct of the 2023 general elections.
“Ensuring the safety and security of voters, election personnel, materials, candidates, party agents, observers, the media and transporters among others is paramount,” Ganduje stressed.
He added that the responsibility had become more challenging in the context of the current asymmetric security situation in the country.
Ganduje said with few months to 2023 general elections, there was no better time for proactive measures than now to ensure that the country was secured enough for elections to be held across the nooks and crannies.
“However, despite the severity of the security challenges facing 2023 polls, I believe that the relevant security agencies have the potency to ensure that the process is made peaceful and secured by synergising effectively.
He advised that security agencies should, however, review their operational strategies and optimally deploy all operational assets toward addressing current and evolving general security threats ahead of the elections.