As part of it efforts to ensure transparency and build confidence in the February 16 presidential election, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has vowed to solely man the result collation centre, stressing that he will not share his constitutional responsibility as the chairman of the collation secretariat with anybody.
The INEC boss was also said to have raised the alarm over what he described as the increasing violence tendencies by politicians and youths who could be used by politicians to carry out nefarious activities, saying that the elections might be disrupted if the security agencies refuse or fail to carry out their jobs, in line with INEC’s specifications.
This is coming as the electoral body has also decided to allow members of the accredited civil society groups, local/international election observers and the media access to its Situation Room.
The Situation Room is a centre where all results from all states for the presidential election are counted and collated before they are finally announced.
The room is unique to INEC; it is its internal control mechanism and the core activity of the commission, which is not usually open to outsiders.
THISDAY also gathered from a senior INEC’s official that Yakubu, has vowed not to share his constitutional responsibility as the chairman of the results collation secretariat with anybody.
“We have decided to open up the Situation Room for members of the civil society groups, party’s members, local/international election observers and the media. But they would have to be accredited. The greatest thing for us is that the process is opened,” the senior INEC officer stated.
There has been pressure on INEC to grant international and local observers access to its situation room during the elections, especially with President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill. It was canvassed that it would make the election transparent and makes the result they will declare believable.
The INEC officer also urged Nigerians and the international community not to entertain any fear about the integrity by the electoral body to conduct credible election, saying that the commission had over the years, built huge capacity to conduct credible elections.
He, however, said that INEC has its own limitations, adding that “we can only do what we can do.’’
According to him, Yakubu is concerned that with the increasing violence tendencies by politicians and the number of youths who could be used by politicians to carry out nefarious activities, the elections might be disrupted if the security agencies refuse or fail to carry out their jobs, in line with INEC’s specifications.
“If we have violence, many elections could be declared inconclusive; that is my fear. For now, it is a big issue for all of us. Many of the registered voters are young people; they don’t have patience on the day of election. And they can easily be used by politicians to disrupt the election’’, the INEC senior officer added.
He also revealed that the commission had virtually finished its recruitment of ad-hoc staff for the elections, with majority of the recruited presiding officers coming from the National Youth Services Corps (NYSC) members, adding that in states where they don’t have enough corps members, some final year students were recruited from the federal institutions – universities and polytechnics.
As for the Collation/Returning Officers, he revealed that those recruited were of professorial grade from federal universities, who were carefully selected in conjunction with the Vice-Chancellors of the universities they operate from.
The INEC officer, who also expressed serious concern over contradicting court orders from courts for equal jurisdiction, said that INEC had been dragged to court for over 619 times since the process started.
He warned that there can never be true democracy without democrats, advising all stakeholders to play by the rules.