The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has admitted that issues of logistics, election technology, the behaviour of some election personnel at different levels, and the attitude of some party agents and supporters added to the extremely challenging environment in the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who stated this on Saturday at a meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) held at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, warned that the RECs would be held responsible for the flawed logistics.
He said the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) would be deployed for voter accreditation and result management, adding that the deployment of BVAS has gone a long way to sanitise voter accreditation in recent elections.
Yakubu explained that since last week, the commission had intensified the technology review to ensure that glitches experienced, particularly with uploading results, are rectified.
He said yesterday’s meeting aimed to review the commission’s performance during the presidential and National Assembly elections and assess preparations for the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections.
Yakubu stated: “No doubt, last week’s national elections raised some issues that require immediate, medium, and long-term solutions. The planning for the election was painstakingly done. However, its implementation came with challenges, some of them unforeseen.
“The issues of logistics, election technology, the behaviour of some election personnel at different levels, the attitude of some party agents and supporters added to the extremely challenging environment in which elections are usually held in Nigeria.”
Yakubu said the commission appreciated the sacrifice and doggedness of Nigerians and the dignity and maturity displayed by political leaders even in the context of divergent views about the election, saying many lessons have been learnt.
The chairman noted that of immediate concern to the commission was how the identified challenges could be addressed as it approaches the concluding phase of the general election involving the largest number of constituencies –28 state governorship elections and 993 state Houses of Assembly seats.
He stated: “As we approach the governorship and state Assembly elections, we must work harder to overcome the challenges experienced in the last election. Nothing else will be acceptable to Nigerians.
“All staff found to be negligent, whether they are regular or ad hoc officials, including Collation and Returning Officers, must not be involved in forthcoming elections. RECs must also immediately initiate disciplinary action where prima facie evidence of wrongdoing has been established,” he explained.
Yakubu said election day logistics must be finalised days before the election and handled by the Electoral Officers (EOs) at the local government level, saying this had been the standard practice.
According to him, centralising the process as was done in some states resulted in a delayed deployment of personnel and materials and late commencement of polls.
“RECs will be held responsible for any tardy arrangement or the failure to deploy electric power generators to collation centres or polling units where such facilities are needed. The commission has enough facilities in all the states of the federation. Failure to deploy them is inexcusable,” he said.
He announced that refresher training must be conducted for ad hoc staff that participated in the last election, saying where they are replaced for a good reason, they must be properly trained so that processes are not delayed or compromised at any stage.
His words: “Arising from last week’s election, the commission has received reports from our State offices and complaints and petitions from political parties and candidates. Where infractions of any kind are proven, there will be redress. I must add that any action taken by the commission is without prejudice to the rights of parties and candidates to seek further remedy as provided by law.
“On election day technology, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) will again be deployed for voter accreditation and result management. The deployment of BVAS has gone a long way to sanitise voter accreditation, as can be seen from the result of recent elections.
“Since last week, the commission has intensified the technology review to ensure that glitches experienced, particularly with the upload of results, are rectified. We are confident that the system will run optimally going forward,” Yakubu explained.
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja