6th October 2020
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has given all eligible voters in Ondo State a firm assurance that only their votes would determine the outcome of the governorship election scheduled for Saturday 10th October 2020.
The Commission’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who gave the undertaking at the Stakeholders’ meeting held in Akure, the State capital on 5th October, also affirmed that the Commission would not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate during the election.
The Commission’s commitment, he affirmed, “is to ensure that the choice of who becomes the next Governor of Ondo State is entirely in the hands of the voters.”
His continued: “I wish to assure all eligible voters that every vote will count and only the choice made by the people of Ondo State will determine the outcome of the election. I want to assure political parties and candidates that we will remain focused on our processes and procedures. Let me reiterate to all stakeholders that the Commission will not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate.”
Prof Yakubu said since the release of the timetable and schedule of activities for the governorship election on 6th February this year, the Commission had carried out series of activities in readiness for the election. These included holding several meetings with political parties and their candidates, interacting with security agencies at national and state levels and consulting with traditional leaders, religious leaders, civil society organisations and the media. “We also conferred with the National Peace Committee under the leadership of our former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, which has invited political parties and candidates to sign a Peace Accord here in Akure tomorrow (today),” he said.
Continuing, the INEC Chairman explained that all categories of ad-hoc staff for the election have been recruited, trained and screened, while non-sensitive materials have been delivered to all the 18 local government areas of the state. Prof Yakubu said the Commission’s officials have also been warned to be professional and non-partisan in the discharge of their assigned responsibilities.
His words: “Voter education and sensitisation is ongoing. We have made arrangements for the movement of personnel and materials to electoral locations in all 3,009 polling units and 203 electoral wards across the State. This afternoon (5th October), the Central Bank will deliver all sensitive materials for the election to its Akure branch.”
He added: “In response to the unfortunate fire incident last month in which we lost all our Smart Card Readers in Ondo State, we have moved enough replacements from Oyo State and configured them for the election on Saturday. We have made adequate arrangements with the Federal Fire Service to ensure that such incidents do not occur again. We have continued to work with security agencies under the auspices of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) to ensure a hitch-free and secure election on 10th October”.
The INEC Chairman also assured all eligible voters of equal opportunity to exercise their right to vote. To ensure inclusivity and effective participation of all citizens in the electoral process, he said magnifying glasses and braille ballot guides would be deployed on election day to assist Persons Living with Disabilities (PWDs) to vote unaided.
To underscore the Commission’s commitment to a credible and transparent process, Prof. Yakubu stated that the z-pad has been introduced to upload polling unit level results to a dedicated portal (INEC Result Viewing – IReV) and was first deployed in the Nasarawa Central State Constituency bye election and also for the recently concluded Edo Governorship election.
He noted: “The same technology will be deployed for the Ondo State Governorship election this Saturday. Anyone interested in viewing polling unit level result in real-time can simply visit our website (www.inecelectionresults.com) to register and create an account. So far, 58,229 viewers have registered on the portal as at Thursday last week.
However, the INEC Chairman said Smart Card Readers (SCRs) will be deployed as usual for voter verification and authentication on election day. He added: “This is a mandatory requirement and where they (SCRs) are deliberately avoided to undermine the integrity of the electoral process, the result for the affected polling unit will be declared void in line with the Commission’s regulations and guidelines.”
Prof Yakubu averred that while the Commission was determined to ensure a credible process, the uploading of polling unit results on the dedicated portal for public view will not happen where the process is disrupted by violence or malpractices.
He however warned: “The Commission is determined that no one will benefit from impunity or be rewarded for bad behaviour such as vote-buying, ballot box snatching and stuffing, multiple voting, hijacking and diversion of election materials, disruption of collation, falsification of results, attack on INEC officials or compelling them to declare unofficial results.
“The people of Ondo State must be allowed to freely vote for their preferred candidate without inducement or harassment. We have been assured by the security agencies that thugs and their sponsors will not have the freedom to move around freely to disrupt the election or collation of results. The Inspector General of Police who is here personally will speak about the strategy to safeguard the electoral process.”