February 14, 2015
The Edo State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr. Mike Igini, has said that the electoral body had uncovered plans by politicians to infiltrate it through its adhoc staff.
Igini said National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) members attached to the commission had come up with reports that they were being approached with a view to manipulating the elections. Vowing that INEC would eliminate rigging in the forthcom-ing general elections, he admonished politicians to look for popular candidates, or lose the elections, if their hope was on manipulating the process.
Igini made this disclosure on Friday in Benin City, during a meeting with leaders of political parties in the state. He said: “If you look at the history of INEC, you will observe that it started by making use of civil servants at the state level. But because of the level of collusion or connivance, INEC decided to go into partnership with the NYSC as well as other federal agencies.
This was even as INEC, through its Head of Department of Elections and Political Parties Monitoring in Anambra State, Mr. Benjamin Igwe, yesterday, warned politicians to shun inflammatory speeches in the name of gaining cheap popularity during election campaigns, adding that it would amount to overheating the polity. Benjamin Igwe sounded the note of caution to politicians against inflammatory utterances while fielding questions from newsmen in Awka. He stressed that such speeches were common in advertisements on billboards, television, radio, posters and handbills. “They should avoid such in the interest of peace before, during and after the general elections,” he said. He reiterated the commission’s commitment to sanitising the electoral process and ensuring that best practices prevailed in the polls. Igwe urged politicians to play politics by the rule or face prosecution, warning that the commission would prosecute political parties or their candidates that violate the Electoral Act. “The commission has the power to place limitations on the amount of money or assets, which an individual or group of persons can contribute to political parties,” he said. On his part, Igini, in Benin City, had said:
“What do we find today? The political class or politicians are now doing everything to infiltrate the NYSC. As you can see, there are fake corpers these days. Because of the shift, we are going to do a refresher course for them again, particularly for the NYSC members. I don’t know what this country is turning into. Are we now going to apply to God to send us agents that will conduct the elections? “Political parties and their leaders should go and look for good and popular candidates. If you are in office, you have to work because salvation comes only from the electorate and not INEC officials. With these card readers, there is no room for thumb printing or snatching of ballot papers. The card readers are the audit train required by the collation officers. “These card readers will tell you what happened at the polling units. It does not appear to me that politicians know what is ahead of them. If they know the debate about postponement – they will not bother, because there are so many things to be done. Everything that goes on at the polling units goes to our central server.
There will be no rigging as people are plotting or thinking. “Politicians must understand that indeed Nigeria can do what is needed to take our country outside its present limits, so that we will not remain a nation celebrated only in terms of potentials. “Results will be pasted at the polling units. The will of the people expressed through the ballot papers is what will count. We have over and again reiterated our commitment that we are trying to do the right thing at all time, to put INEC at the service of the Nigerian people. “Never again; the time is gone when the umpire, the institution was an instrument for manipulation for victory. It is today a national institution committed to the conduct of a free and fair election to keep our democracy ever young.” He further explained the level of preparedness of INEC in the state, and urged political parties to persuade their supporters to pick their permanent voter cards (PVCs). His words: “In Edo State, we have received 3,675 card readers. We have 2,627 poling units. The requirements of polling units have been surpassed.
In the event of a failure of a card reader, there will be a replacement immediately. Nigeria has 120,000 polling units. We have over 1, 800 of the card readers. At all the voting points, there will be a card reader. “On non-sensitive materials, we have been receiving many of these materials. They are the ballot boxes; and the nonsensitive ballot boxes, ink, stamp, pens and life jackets to take care of the ugly and unfortunate development that happened at Ologbo in the last election, where we lost lives. We have the responsibility to ensure that all those that were engaged to work with us are protected. “We all know that we engaged adult staff to conduct elections. As a matter of fact, whatever we want Nigeria to be is completely in our hands.
INEC’s total staff strength nationwide is about 13,000. But for this election, we are going to engage well over 900,000 people. Out of the 13, 000 and above that we have in INEC, those who will be engaged in electoral activities are very few. In Edo State, we are just about 339 staff. And on election days, most of these people will not be involved in the electoral process because some will have to work in the office. “In this state, we need 15,571 personnel to conduct the elections. INEC has been doing things that should be understood clearly, such that whatever is the outcome of the election would be seen as a reflection of who we are and what we want for our country. “We have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Union of Road Transport Workers to help us convey our materials to polling units. We signed the MOU at the national level, and it goes down to the local government levels. The association will help us distribute materials so that if anything goes wrong, we would know who to blame.”