Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has declared the commission ready for the 2019 general elections.
Yakubu also reassured the international community and the country that the 2019 general elections will be credible, free, fair and transparent.
He spoke on Wednesday as he received the delegation of the European Union (EU), United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US).
He also stressed that 2019 elections will be credible, as the commission will jealously guide the processes.
The INEC chairman further assured Nigerians that the outcome of the polls will meet the expectations of all as all votes will count.
“We are good to go for the 2019 general elections. We are aware that the election is going to be an intense media event but only that international community will also intensely watch the processes as they have always done and I want to assure you that we will not fail the international community and will not fail the nation.
“We are aware that the long term EU observation mission is on ground, and also the ECOWAS observation mission, so the international community is already in Nigeria for the elections.
“2019 elections will be credible, we will jealously guide the processes, we will ensure that the processes lead to the outcome that all Nigerians expect. Nothing but free, fair, credible elections will be good enough for the commission,” he said.
He also assured that “vote will count in 2029 general elections. We are ready for free, fair and transparent process such that will confirm the position of Nigeria in international community as a nation that conducts credible elections.
“2015 is not a fluke, it was a product of deliberate planning and 2019 is going to be the same”
Yakubu who also briefed his guest on the preparation of the commission towards the elections said, “we are at the moment outing finishing touches to our preparation for the elections.
“The first election will hold on 16th February with the national elections, presidential and National Assembly and the second election will hold on the 2nd of March, which is the state elections.
“The governorship, state assembly and election into area councils in the Federal capital territory. All the heavy items for the elections are being procured in addition to ballot boxes, voting cubicles, replacement smart card readers. The permanent voter cards have also been delivered to the states for collection by citizens.”
He also revealed that the commission is recruiting and will soon commence training for ad-hoc staff for the elections.
Speaking earlier, David Young, Charge D,Affairs of the US embassy in Abuja pointed to the expected neutrality of the security agencies during the elections.
He stressed that they must stick to their role of protecting the electorates and ballot materials and avoid any form of interference with the voting process.
“I would want express the concern that we have and that is the neutrality of the security services. For us it is very important in the ongoing season that the security services are very smart, provide security for the elections. Security in the safety of the process.
“It should be done in such a way that it does not interfere with people getting to the polls, poll watchers, civil society organization and other to have access to ensure the voting goes freely both in February 16th and March 2nd.
“This is something we have been deliberating strongly about. The neutrality of the security services is one is one of the very very important issues for credible elections,” he said.
Young also spoke on the need for a better synergy among the three arms of government, saying that the executive, legislature and judiciary are crucial to democracy.
He said, “I also want to say that we appreciate very much the important the role judiciary plays in Nigeria.”
Stressing the collaborative role the legislature, executive and judiciary plays in democracy, Young therefore warned that there should be no interference with the role of judges and judiciary in democracy.
He also tresses that the US is very supportive of Nigeria and is therefore looking forward to playing a supporting role as a fellow democratic partner.
The EU Head of Delegation to Ketil Karlsen said the delegation was in INEC to receive briefing on the preparedness of the commission towards the forthcoming general polls.
EU, he said, regards itself as good friend of the country and would do everything possible to support the success of the democratic process. He also noted that EU long term observe is already in the country.
He also reiterated that EU does not have any preferred candidate or party or ideology in the elections, rather the interest of the delegation is in the conduct of free, far and transparent elections.
He also noted that the success of the 2015 general poll in Nigeria has already set the benchmark in Africa and it is expected that the 2019 general elections will follow the same pattern.
EU stressed that it will only partner with whosoever emerged from the polls.
German Minister Counsellor / Deputy Head of Mission, Regine Hess urged all the stakeholders to ensure a violence free elections come February and March polls.
She also commended the peace committee, while urging the stakeholders to abide by the peace pact.
The delegation also joined the commission in inaugurating the Election Monitoring Support Centre, where all the elections will be monitored. The office is essentially ICT driven.