The Independent National Electoral Commission has expressed willingness to obey the judgement of the court of appeal, on the qualification of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Timipre Sylva, to contest as the flag bearer of the party in the coming November 11 governorship election in the state.
The position of the INEC was made known by the Bayelsa State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Obo Effanga, during a stakeholders’ meeting held in Abuja by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room.
The meeting aimed to assess INEC’s level of preparedness for the upcoming governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states.
However, the Bayelsa REC, who participated in the meeting virtually, said though the Commission did not publish Sylva’s name as a candidate for the election, following the judgement of the Federal High Court, noted that it would however abide by any pronouncement from the appellate court.
“We have to ensure that we obey every court order on the matter. On whether he (Sylva) would be restored as a candidate for the election, that will be taken care of,” the REC stated.
Effanga disclosed that whereas there are 1, 056, 862 registered voters from the eight Local Government Areas in the State, the Commission recorded over 96% Permanent Voters Card, PVC, collection.
He however revealed that while the state has 405 Wards, the election would be conducted in 2,242 polling units in the state.
He further maintained that the Commission had since trained all the ad-hoc staff it plans to deploy for the governorship election, among whom he said included some persons with disabilities.
According to him, to guarantee security during the election, the Nigeria Police Force guaranteed that it would deploy 27,000 officers for the election.
“All the polling units are located in public places and facilities. The process for the transmission of the results of the election has not changed. When the results are recorded in Form EC8A, party agents will sign and get a copy. After that, poll officers will take a snapshot and the result will be uploaded to the IReV portal.
“It is important to make this clarification that the IReV portal is not a collation platform or centre,” he added.
The INEC boss stressed that the Voters Register to be used for the election has been in existence since 2011.
“Some of the persons in it may be dead. Not all the dead persons have been removed from the register. Some may have also left the country with the recent Japa syndrome. However, we hope that many people will turn out for the election.
“We have made efforts to sensitise the voters and we are also collaborating with Civil Society Organizations,” the Bayelsa REC stated.
Also speaking, the REC for the Kogi state gubernatorial election, Dr. Hale Longpet, who equally joined the meeting virtually, disclosed that whereas there are 1, 932, 654 registered voters in the state, a total of 1,833, 160 PVCs were collected.
Assuring INEC’s preparedness for the impending poll, Dr Longpet identified insecurity in the state as a major source of concern for the electoral body.
“We have identified flashpoints that pose a security challenge for the election. We have prepared something like a map. You will recall that six of our ad-hoc staff members were kidnapped during the National Assembly elections.
“However, the security agencies have given us the assurance that they will provide adequate security and that every voter will have a pleasant experience without intimidation or threat,” Longpet said.
Kogi REC revealed that INEC had earlier embarked on a massive sensitisation exercise, with the messages translated into all the major languages in the state.
He further revealed that INEC had since received the necessary funds needed for the conduct of all the off-cycle elections.
Similarly, the Convener of the Situation Room, Mr Y. Z. Ya’u, said the essence of the meeting was to create a platform for critical stakeholders to hear directly from the RECs, regarding their preparedness for the forthcoming elections in the three states.