From Emmanuel Ben Opara (HoD, Voter Education & Publicity) Imo state
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Imo State, Prof. Francis Chukwuemeka Ezeon has allayed the fears of Imolites who had raised concerns over the purported training of ad-hoc personnel on the use of voting machines in some states of the federation.
Speaking during his citizens’ engagement tour of some local government areas in the state, Prof. Ezeon explained that the said voting machines were designed by the Nigeria Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) and demonstrated to the National Assembly members for adoption for elections, adding that the federal government was yet to adopt the electronic voting procedure for elections.
He however noted that the Kaduna State Government has decided to use electronic voting machines for its Local Government elections, and was free to train their personnel on how to use the machines. He observed that other states were also free to acquire the machines and train their citizens on how to use them.
The REC insisted that the Registration Area Centres (RACs) must be used in the 2019 general elections, in order to curb logistic challenges. He appealed to the traditional rulers to help secure INEC properties deployed to their localities.
He however frowned at the desperation of some politicians who try to influence INEC officials in a bid to truncate the electoral process. He assured that the Commission was putting measures in place to checkmate such tendencies.
The Vice Chairman, Onuimo Local Government, Mrs. Nkeiru Ijeoma, welcomed the INEC team and assured its members of adequate cooperation
In another development, Prof. Ezeonu has assured the electorate in Imo State that the Commission was committed to improving elections in the country to meet the best standards in the world.
Speaking at Isiala Mbano in continuation of his confidence building and citizens’ engagement parleys across Imo State, Prof Ezeonu said the Commission could adopt electronic transmission of results for the 2019 general elections.
To this end, he noted that the manual collation officers and the e-collation officers would work harmoniously to achieve success.
He said results generated from the polling units would be transmitted to the commission’s server, while scanned images of the same results sheets would also be transmitted electronically and the hard copies given to the agents.
With this process, he maintained that the era of connivance and falsification of results was gone and charged politicians to work hard and sell themselves to the electorate to win their votes.
Answering a question on the possibility of network challenges, the REC said the commission was mindful of that and was already consulting with the Nigerian Communications Commission on possible ways of checking the issues.
He called on Nigerians to have confidence in INEC and its ability to deliver credible elections
.The stakeholders commended INEC for approving the mobile Continuous Voter Registration Centres. They implored the Commission to expand the initiative to the ward level just as they appealed for the creation of more polling units and registration areas.
The stakeholders at the meeting included traditional rulers, law enforcement agents in the local government, politicians and religious leaders.
The meeting was the third in the series of enlightenment programmes planned by the commission in the state, in partnership with non-governmental organizations
The Commissioner for Local Government, Barrister Emma Ibediro commended the REC and his entourage for coming out to educate the citizens in the local language. He implored the REC to also extend the same sensitization technique to the Police and other stakeholders in the electoral process.
During the interaction, the citizens asked questions on the efficiency of the card reader, security of ad-hoc personnel, training, electronic voting machines, printing of the Permanent Voter Cards and the Commission’s readiness for the 2019 General elections.
The REC was accompanied on the tour by the Administrative Secretary, Barrister TON Ongele and Heads of Department.