Preparatory to the general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it would need to recruit 707, 384 Presiding Officers and Assistant Presiding Officers, about 17, 685 Supervisory Presiding Officers, 9,620 Collation/Returning Officer, as well as 530,538 Polling Unit Security officials, making a total of 1,265,227.
It also stated that it would need to hire at least 100,000 buses and 4,000 boats as well as engage drivers and workers who must subscribe to the Oath of Neutrality that would be administered by the commission.
National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Barrister Festus Okoye said this Monday in Lagos at the INEC Voter Education and Publicity training on strategic communications.
Okoye noted that all the sensitive and non-sensitive materials required for the conduct of the 2023 general election were being moved to location, while security was being beefed up in the state and local government offices of the commission.
He also said all the materials required for the election would be in place at least a week to the election.
“For the 2023 general election, the commission will recruit 707, 384 Presiding Officers and Assistant Presiding Officers, about 17, 685 Supervisory Presiding Officers, 9,620 Collation/Returning Officer, as well as 530,538 Polling Unit Security Officials, making a total of 1,265,227.
“All these categories of staff are undergoing training and the training of others will commence in a few days. The commission is engaging all institutions and critical national institutions supervising critical national assets.
“The commission has revised and signed MOU with the National Union of Road Transport Workers and the Marine Workers Union of Nigeria.
“The commission needs and will hire at least 100,000 buses and 4,000 boats for the election and the drivers and workers to be engaged must also subscribe to the Oath of Neutrality that will be administered by the Commission. All the sensitive and non sensitive materials required for the conduct of the 2023 General Elections are being moved to location.
“Security is being beefed up in the State and Local Government Offices of the Commission and all the materials required for the election will be in place at least a week to the election,” Okoye said.
While speaking on the role of public affairs officers during the election, Okoye said, “Being Heads of Departments and Public Affairs Officers, it is your responsibility to advise the Resident Electoral Commissioners, and Electoral Officers on the best way to communicate the policies of the Commission, its technological innovations and issues in the conduct of elections.
“Your role, therefore, is important in getting Nigerians to understand our policies, programs and procedures during the 2023 General Election and thereafter.”
The IVEC Chairman further said: “The commission has tested the full complement of the BVAS that will be used for the election and they are presently being configured in readiness for the election.
“Following improvements made to the hardware and software components of the BVAS, the commission approved and carried out Mock Accreditation and polling unit result upload nationwide. This took place on the 4th of February 2023 in all the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
“Specifically, it took place in 218 Local Government Areas and 436 polling units. The Chairman of the Commission who supervised the entire process expressed satisfaction with the optimal performance of the BVAS in all the states of the federation.
“The use of the BVAS for voter verification and authentication is a mandatory provision of section 47(2) of the Electoral Act and every registered voter must undergo the process of accreditation.
“The commission will also upload Polling Unit level results (Form EC8A) and the accreditation data to the INEC Result Viewing Portal. This is also a mandatory provision of section 50, 60 and 64 of the Electoral Act 2022.”
Okoye also listed some of the expected challenges the officers would face in their line of duties such as the crave for sensational headlines, the specter of fake news, the problem of planted stories and the breaking news syndrome.
Okoye said in such news stories; they would encounter sources not willing to be named, information leakage from within and validation of predetermined positions.
“He urged them to know their subject and prepare well before going for a live interview. You cannot take back what you say on live interviews,” he cautioned.
“Keep your answers on the borderline especially when issues are unfolding. Avoid ambiguity and check whether your words and sentences may be subject to different interpretations.
“Don’t run away from the media (They will downgrade you and make you look incompetent). Be proactive with information sharing. It is better to give information upfront than allow the media share false information and you struggle to explain. Cultivate the media but don’t hug the limelight.
“Cultivate the media channels you could readily send information to and expect them to use and make it an agenda. Remember that framing an issue is important.
“Respond to urgent issues involving your state and don’t allow them to fester. Don’t rush to the press with your press statements without a second person looking at it. Maximize your strength and know your weaknesses.
“Comment only on issues concerning your state.
“Avoid policy issues that are the exclusive preserve of INEC headquarters. Once again, on behalf of the Chairman of the Commission, I join the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Lagos State in welcoming you to this program and I hereby formally declare it open,” the commission further said.