As INEC harps on peaceful environment for smooth poll
By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
The National Peace Committee, NPC, under the chairmanship of former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, rtd, will soon move to Edo state with a view to committing all the political parties and candidates for the September 19 governorship election in the state to sign a peace accord ahead of the poll.
The Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu revealed this yesterday during the meeting the Inter Agency Consultative Committee on Elections Security (ICCES) in Benin, the Edo state capital.
This is even as Prof Yakubu declared that INEC is fully prepare and set for the governorship election.
The INEC Chairman, while maintaining that the environment must be safe for the commission to conduct elections, assured that the Commission will necessary steps to ensure that the environment is conducive to conduct this elections.
The INEC Chairman maintained that the Office of the National Peace Committee has concluded plan to ensure that the candidates and political parties participating in the Edo State governorship election are committed to signing peace accord in Benin as the election draws closer.
In the words of the INEC Chairman, “We are also in touch with the Office of the National Peace Committee, chaired by the respected former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar and there is a plan to sign the peace accord in Benin, close to the election.
“The National Peace Committee engages political parties at the national level. But for the first time, given the significance of the election we are conducting in Edo State, the National Committee is coming down to Benin to ensure that all parties and all aspirants are committed to a peaceful process”, he said.
During the 2015 and 2019 presidential elections, the Abdulsalami Abubakar-led peace committee committed the ptesidential candidates to similar peace accords.
Professor noted that the Edo governorship election is the first major election to be conducted under the policy of the COVID-19 pandemic, stressing that both the INEC staff and the ICCES have additional responsibility to ensure the conduct of “a free, fair, credible, transparent acceptable, peaceful but also safe election for everyone.”
According to him, “This is the first major election that the commission will be conducting in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is additional expectations from you to ensure that we conduct free, fair, credible, transparent acceptable, peaceful but also safe election for everyone.
“So, the idea essentially is to meet with members of the Inter Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security and also meet with our own staff in INEC.
“Tomorrow (today), I’m going to see all the electoral officers from all the 18 local government areas of the state and I will visit some of the local government offices.
“The whole purpose is for us to supervise first hand the level of preparations so far for the election.
“Yes, we have been receiving reports at the headquarters, but we feel it is important for us to come down and see for ourselves what is truly on the ground.
“From the point of view of the headquarters about planning on the 6th of February this year, the commission released the timetable and schedule of activities for the Edo and Ondo governorship election.
“We gave 7 months notice for the Edo election and 8 months for the Information on election and we itemized 14 activities under the timetable and schedule of activities to be carried out on specific days beginning with the publication of notices for election and ending with election day proper . I’m happy to say that so far”, he said.
The Commission, Prof Yakubu revealed, has been successfully carried out 10 of such activities from the schedule, stressing that not one activity has been rescheduled even for a minute.
The INEC Chairman pointed out that the whole exercise will terminate on election day proper while campaigns would end 24 hours to the election as the law stipulates.
In the words of Prof Yakubu, “The next activity is end of campaign which, by law, will happen 24 hours to the election. The campaigns will seize midnight on Thursday before the Saturday of the election and then the last activity is the election day itself.
“So in terms of readiness, we are ready for this election”, he said.
The INEC Chairman reiterated that the commission had already come out with the policy of conducting elections in the context of COVID-19 pandemic and had also test run the policy on August 8 using the bye-election in Nasarawa Central State constituency election in Nasarawa state.