By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
With forty-three days to this year’s general election, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has reassured Nigerians that it on course to deliver credible elections in 2019.
The Chairman of the Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu gave the assurance yesterday at the inauguration of two ad-hoc committee on Electoral Logistics and the National Collation Centre at the INEC headquarters, Maitama, Abuja.
While the Committee on Collation Centre has a National Commissioner Amina Bala Zakari as Chairman, the Committee on Electoral Logistics is headed by another National Commissioner, AVM Ahmed Tijjani Muazu (rtd).
The INEC Chairman equally used the opportunity to confirm that the Commission will meet with the national leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) today, Friday 4th January 2019 at 4pm, to discuss the ongoing strike by the Union in relation to its preparations for the General Elections.
He expressed concerned that the bulk of critical election duty staff are drawn from the universities, stressing that the Commission is determined to ensure that processes are not affected by the Unions industrial action.
According to Prof Yakubu, “Today, the Commission is taking another step in our determination to ensure seamless preparations for the 2019 General Elections.
“As we move closer to the elections, the Commission has decided to set up two (2) ad hoc Committees to drive important components of the electoral process.
“The first Committee is responsible for electoral logistics. The Commission is aware that the conduct of a General Election is the biggest and most complex logistics operation a nation can undertake.
“Sensitive and non-sensitive materials procured by the Commission must be delivered to almost 200,000 locations nationwide, ranging from the polling units to the various Ward, Local Government, State and the National collation centres for the 1,558 constituencies into which elections will be conducted.
“At the end of the elections, sensitive materials will be retrieved from the same locations. The same process will be repeated for each of the two (2) phases of the 2019 General Elections, namely the Presidential and National Assembly elections holding on 16th February and the Governorship, State Assembly and Area Council election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on 2nd March.
“For the 2019 General Elections, the Electoral Logistics Committee will be responsible for coordinating logistics support as well as the clearance and transportation of election materials to various locations nationwide.
“The Committee includes relevant security agencies whose roles are clearly defined in Section 29(3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
“The second ad hoc committee, which is entirely internal to the Commission, shall be responsible for the national collation centre from where results of the Presidential election will be announced.
‘As was the case in 2015, the Commission will use the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Abuja.
‘Already, the management of the ICC has approved the Commissions request to once again use the venue in 2019.
“It will serve as the secretariat for collation of results and venue for briefing of international observers and the media.
“ It will also be accessible to agents of the seventy-three (73) political parties fielding candidates in the presidential election.
“Facilities such as power, access to the internet, live transmission for national and international media as well as accreditation for access to the ICC and security of the venue shall be handled by the Committee.
“I wish to reassure Nigerians that we are on course to deliver credible elections in 2019.”