INEC’s readiness for 2019 polls



It may be safe to reach the inevitable conclusion that the nation’s electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts towards ensuring the successful conduct of the 2019 general elections.

This optimism flows from the series of measures and strategies adopted by the commission, which include the planned deployment of one million electoral officers and the earmarking of N85 billion in providing logistics for the polls. Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the disclosure at a recent meeting with representatives of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO).

Yakubu, who was represented by Okechukwu Ibeamu, said the election officers would comprise some INEC workers and security agents On logistics, INEC’s Head of Health Infrastructure, Dr Amina Zakari, said its cost was enormous in any election. According to her, it will cost the commission at least N10 billion in logistics to conduct a single election.

She said the commission would use the military and Air Force for the election in difficult terrains. Zakari said: “We have earmarked N85 billion for logistics for the 2019 general elections. For a two-day election, which is the least number of days to conduct election, it costs about N10 billion in logistics.

You can imagine what will be involved if we have to take the elections in more than one day like the presidential separately, National Assembly and even the cost of conducting five elections separately. “These costs exclude leasing of boats in the riverine areas, additional gunboats for security, hiring helicopter for other areas affected by insurgency and difficult terrain.

Moving of personnel and materials in those areas is very challenging and these must be done at the same time nationwide. It is worst because about twothird of the country’s territory is covered by difficult terrain. “The window for the deployment of electoral materials is too short especially as it must be delivered between 5.00am and 8.00am.

You can imagine the enormity of the task, considering the size of the country, difficult terrain and poor road network where the elections have to be conducted. “We are not even considering the supplementary elections that may come up, the run-off elections and the possible suspension of areas where violence may disrupt the poll which we normally suspend and reschedule.

The logistic cost is really enormous and it will be good for the country to find a more cost efficient manner at which elections can be conducted.” On the use of the military in difficult terrains, Zakari Zakari, who was redeployed as the head of electoral operations and logistics recently, said: “Security is of paramount importance and if there is no violence, elections can be done seamlessly.

The commission has also enlisted the services of the Air Force and the Navy for deployment, especially to these difficult terrains. Recently, a Logistics Advisory Committee was set up with membership drawn from the commission, security agencies and other partners that will help us achieve a seamless transportation of the materials from the sea or airport to the polling stations.

“With over 120,000 polling units, the biggest challenge the commission will encounter is the Election Day logistics. Our problem will be transportation in terms of movement of electoral materials.” It is evident that logistics is the major determinant in the conduct of a successful election.

This much was underscored by Prof. Yakubu who said that logistics were key to the success of 2019 general elections. He said at a recent conference on logistics for the 2019 general elections organised by INEC to mark the last stage of the commission’s preparations for the polls that the exercise required careful planning.

He said deployment and retrieval of personnel and materials for elections called for huge logistics which informed the conference. According to him, any flop in logistics will be termed as attempt to disenfranchise the citizens, hence the need to plan adequately with logistics operators and security agencies. On its part, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, assured INEC of adequate deployment of armed policemen, vehicular patrols and helicopters for security during the elections.

He delivered a speech on “Election Security: Providing Adequate Security for the Deployment and Retrieval of Election Personnel and Materials in an Election.” Blueprint commends INEC’s resilience and doggedness in the painstaking efforts to deliver hitch-free, fair, credible and acceptable elections in 2019. It must not, however, be lost on Nigerians that INEC is just one of the many players in the electoral value chain.

This, therefore, implies that other players in the electoral value chain, namely, security agencies, political parties, and the electorate have a duty to complement INEC’s efforts by playing roles effectively to ensure the success of next year’s elections. Every stakeholder, particularly candidates contesting the elections, must strive to play by the rule of the game.

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