A total of 63 political parties have issued notice to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct their presidential primaries, the electoral body revealed yesterday.
An official of the commission who stated this also said that 91 parties have served notices for the commission to observe their primaries for other offices. He also denied claims that INEC was planning to shift the 2019 polls, describing the rumour as baseless. The officials who pleaded for anonymity said: “So far, 80 of the 91 political parties have indicated intention to conduct primaries. Only 10 parties have issued notices for FCT elections for the six area council chairmen and 62 councilorship seats; 63 parties have given notices for presidential primaries.” On other issues concerning next year’s general election, the source declared that the Smart Card Reader would be deployed for the elections whether the new electoral bill which legalizes it is signed into law or not.
He explained that the Card Reader does two critical assignments, including identification of the holder and authentication of the card to ascertain it was not cloned. He assured that the Card Reader would not be discarded despite the delay in legalizing it through the assent to either new electoral bill.
Although he admitted that there were some challenges that needed to be fixed he said the country has recorded some improvements in its electoral system.
According to him, as result of improvements in the electoral process in recent years, the commission has witnessed less incidents of ballot box and results sheets snatching, less incidents of INEC staff hijacking and no cases of results being declared while election was ongoing. On Osun governorship election coming up by next weekend, the INEC official explained that 1.6 million voters have registered for the elections, adding that 73 per cent of the voters have collected their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs). He said that the PVC collection was the highest in recent times, adding that 48 political parties are fielding governorship candidates for the election. He stressed that 16,000 personnel made up of 15,000 ad hoc staff and 1,000 INEC staff would take part in the election.
He assured that INEC would track sensitive election materials and its personnel during the election to ensure transparency. On vote-buying, the source said:“It is not a new thing, but it is assuming a new dimension as a result of improvements in our electoral process.”
He disclosed that INEC was considering a situation in which voters would be barred from taking phones to the voting cubicles.
However, he explained that INEC cannot completely bar voters from using phones at polling units because the phones also help the citizens to gather lots of information, which can be sent to INEC for further action.
He lamented that vote-buying was taking a frightening dimension, saying it has moved beyond physical cash to engagement of electronic transfer.
He disclosed that INEC is working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC) to monitor the spate of electronic transfer around elections.