Against the backdrop of the suspicion by politicians in Ekiti State that the July 14 governorship election may not be credible, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reassured Nigerians that no individual or group will be allowed to truncate the poll.
The electoral body said it was partnering with the European Centre For Electoral Support (ECES) for the training of staff who will be used for the election, so they can get acquainted with modern and digitalized electoral process through the Election Monitoring and Support Centre (EMSC) implementers’ workshop.
The electoral commission also disclosed that it is compulsory for the members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) serving in Ekiti state to serve as electoral officers in the election, describing the poll as a critical national assignment that was a statutory obligation of any corps member.
INEC also said some staff and students of the some federal institutions in the state will be deployed to make up for the shortfall recorded in the number of NYSC members required to conduct the election, saying this was not attempt to vitiate or compromise the integrity of the election.
Speaking at the Ekiti State EMSC workshop organized for INEC staff in Ado-Ekiti on Thursday, the national commissioner in charge of Ekiti, Oyo and Osun States, Prince Adedeji Soyebi, commended ECES for taking interest in matters that will boost the integrity of Nigerian elections.
He said, “The EMSC is a programme specially conceived to give skills to staff of this commission. We have passed through many training but this is very special and important, so we appreciate the European Union for this help.”
On the allegations by the Ekiti State governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose that it was wrong to draw students of Federal University, Oye Ekiti to conduct the election, Soyebi said: “I don’t need to join issues with them at this level, because that is the standard practice anywhere.
“We want to draw them into the election to supplement the shortfall in the number of corps members to be used. We started this in 2011 and they have to be students and staff of federal universities,” he clarified.
Soyebi said those accused of illegally purchasing Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) from owners were wasting their times and resources, saying: “No one can vote for anybody by proxy, because we will test the fingerprints”.
The INEC Chief added that a more voter-friendly enhanced Smart Card Readers will be deployed for the conduct of the Ekiti election.
Also speaking, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Ekiti state, Prof Abdulganiy Raji, assured that INEC will be neutral in the election.
Lending credence to Soyebi’s assertion on the use of students as electoral officers, Raji revealed that, “We needed 10,500 youth corps members and we have 6,500 in Ekiti as of now, out of which 1, 500 will be discharged by July 7.
“With this, we need additional 5,500 staff and these we can only get through students and staff of federal schools. We are in the 6th week of training for them. They are being screened and trained to get the required skills.
“It is a compulsory exercise and they have to participate”, the REC stated.
The Director of ECES , Mr David Le Notre, praised the INEC for taking the giant step of re-branding the country’s electoral system.
Notre said the body will continue to lend support to Nigeria to overcome challenges affecting the conduct of credible polls that meet international standard, and for Nigeria to join the league of nations with a perfect electoral system.