Posted by News Express | 21 December 2014 | 4,525 times
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, has promised that the 2015 polls would be the best ever conducted in the country. He made the promise while briefing a delegation of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) on how prepared INEC is for the forthcoming polls. The meeting took place in the Conference Room of The Electoral Institute, Abuja.
“We are very, very confident that we are fully prepared to deliver elections that are far better than 2011. The reason is that we have had time to reform and prepare. I took over in July 2010 and in 2011 we delivered credible elections within only eight months but we have had four years to prepare for the 2015 elections. INEC is now poised to deliver free and fair elections come 2015. We are promising much more better elections in 2015,” Jega said, boasting that the polls would be almost impossible to rig.
The INEC Chairman spoke of specific steps the commission under his watch has taken to ensure that the elections wold be unrigable.
Internal reforms: We have done our best to clean up the commission. We drew the line for our staff. We reviewed past elections to find out what went wrong and to fix it. For this, we invited INEC electoral staff from all over the country to Abuja, put them in a room, assured them of immunity and appealed to them to tell us problems they were having in the field. It was an eye opener. They spoke frankly and that has helped us to clean up the system.
Adhoc staff: We have modified the system. In the past we used teachers and other civil servants but we found that it would be very difficult for them, being government workers, to refuse when told by, say, a governor, to do anything. We decided to use NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) members instead of teachers, etc.
Until 2011, INEC staff used to collate results despite being over-worked. Also a few bad eggs compromised. We decided that INEC staff will not be involed in the collation and return of results. We now use Vice Chancellors of universities as returning officers. We may add other professionals in future.
Voters’ register: We have restored the credibility of the voters register. The first thing we did was to create a new register. We have removed over 4 million double registrations. We have created a good biometric registration.
Voting system: We decided to change the system of voting; we separated accreditation from voting. This has greatly reduced multiple voting as there is no way anybody can vote twice.
Relationship with stakeholders: We have improved our relationship with the security agencies, thus improving the security of the election process.
We have improved our relationship with political parties. We are meeting regularly with them. We are improving our relationship with civil society. We have improved our communication with various stakeholders.
Electoral materials: An elementary principle in electoral credibility is ensuring that electoral materials are documented. Unlike in the past, all ballot papers, result sheets and ballot boxes are serially numbered, so none that is snatched can come back to us and be accepted.
We have also introduced colour coding and customised result sheets. This makes it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for anybody to change election results.
Possibility of voting with cloned voters cards: We have bought and will deploy machine readers during 2015 elections. Our PVCs (Permanent Voters Cards) are machine readable. In 2015, we intend to use machine readers to prevent somebody coming to vote with another person’s card. No cloned card can be read by our card reader; it reads only our cards.
External support: We are getting serious support from our development partners. Our mission is to make INEC one of the best election management bodies in the world.
Challenges: We have noted the challenges with the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise in some parts of the country and we are working hard to correct them. Our assurance is that before February 2015, everybody who has done CVR will get his PVC.
Of course, there are challenges. One of the biggest challenges our political parties have is that they do not have enough agents or do not take adequate care of them, so they are easy to be bought by richer parties. Another serious challenge is the attitude of our politicians. There are very few good politicians who operate with a certain degree of decorum and civility.
On whether election will hold in every part of the country, including areas affected by insurgency: We have serious challenge with security. Operationally, we are prepared to conduct election everywhere but we shall exercise rational judgement and we will have to rely on the advice of the security agencies. Regarding IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), the law says that you can only vote where you registered, unless you apply to transfer your registration to another area. All we can do is hope for normalcy to return sufficiently to those areas so that people can return and vote.
•Photo shows Prof. Jega.
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