INEC Has Blamed Not Just Logistics Challenge, But Also Sabotage of Its Efforts

INEC Has Blamed Not Just Logistics Challenge, But Also Sabotage of Its Efforts

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has blamed not just logistics challenge, but also sabotage of its efforts, as some of the reasons responsible for the one week shift in the elections.

The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this at the meeting of the commission with stakeholders on Saturday in Abuja.

lNEC has rescheduled the 2019 general elections by one week by postponing the Presidential and National Assembly elections from Feb. 16 to Feb. 23, and the Governorship, State Assembly and FCT Area Council elections from March 2 to March 9.

Yakubu said that the plan for the 2019 general elections was ready in November 2017 and INEC subsequently issued the timetable and schedule of activities for the elections over one year ago, on Jan. 9, 2018.

Stakeholders at the meeting with INEC in Abuja on Saturday

   Stakeholders at the meeting with INEC in Abuja on Saturday

Professor Mahmood Yakubu: briefing international observers on why the polls were rescheduled

He said that the commission carefully followed its timetable and implemented 13 of the 14 activities as scheduled and had not missed the date fixed for any single activity.

He, however, said that in preparing for the elections, the commission came face-to-face with the realities of conducting such an extensive national deployment of men and materials in a developing country like Nigeria.

He said that not only had INEC recruited and trained about one million young people to serve as adhoc staff, it had also undertaken steps for the deployment of the magnitude of materials mobilised for the elections.

“For instance, the Commission has printed 421.7 million ballot papers for six scheduled elections, as well as 13.6 million leaves of result forms for the Presidential election alone.

“Indeed, managing 91 political parties and 23,316 candidates for whom votes will be cast in 119,973 polling units by over 84 million voters is certainly astounding.”

Yakubu said that it was not unexpected that such a tremendous national mobilisation of men and materials would encounter operational challenges and INEC has had its own fair share of such challenges.

He disclosed that there had been delays in delivering ballot papers and result sheets for the elections, which according to him, was not unusual.

“However, I must emphasize that all the ballot papers and result sheets were ready before the elections despite the very tight legal timeframe for finalizing nomination of candidates and dealing with the spate of legal challenges that accompany it.

“In this regard, the Commission has been sued or joined in over 640 court cases arising from the nomination of candidates,” adding that as today, there were 40 different court orders against the Commission on whether to add or drop candidates.

“The net effect of these is that there is usually roughly a one-month window for the Commission to print ballot papers and result sheets and either fly or transport them to several destinations until they finally get to each polling unit.

“Unfortunately, in the last one week, flights within the country have been adversely affected by bad weather. For instance, three days ago, we were unable to deliver materials to some locations due to bad weather.

“We therefore had to rely on slow-moving long haulage vehicles to locations that can be serviced by air in spite of the fact that we created five zonal airport hubs -Abuja (North Central), Port Harcourt (South South and South East), Kano (North West), Maiduguri and Yola (North East) and Lagos (South West) to facilitate the delivery of electoral logistics. ”

Yakubu said that apart from the logistical challenges, INEC also faced what may well be attempts to sabotage its preparations, which include serious fire incidents in three of its offices in lsiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of Abia State, Qu‘an Pan Local Government Area of Plateau State and its Anambra State Office at Awka.

“In all three cases, serious disruptions were occasioned by the fire, further diverting our attention from regular preparations to recovery from the impact of the incidents,” as the commission had to replace all affected materials, including the Permanent Voter Cards.

He recalled that in over 4,600 prepared Smart card readers which took at least six months to procure was destroyed by fire at its Anambra State Office at Awka.

“Despite this setback, we have practically recovered from this by mopping up every available spare SCR across the country and within 24 hours delivered them for elections to hold in Anambra.

“All these challenges mean that there have been differences in preparations from one State to another.

Yakubu said that the overall assessment of INEC was that if the elections went on as planned, polls would not open at 8a.m in all polling units nationwide.

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