With just a month to the 2023 general election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that it is set to conduct a mock accreditation of voters.
The mock accreditation ahead of the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections, according to the commission, will be held on Saturday February 4, 2023 in 436 polling units nationwide.
The commission also noted that the distribution of sensitive materials for the elections to the various states is at an advanced stage while the distribution of non-sensitive materials has been concluded.
INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this at a meeting with resident electoral commissioners from the 36 states of the federation and the FCT noted that the mock accreditation exercise, which will take place in about 436 polling units across the country, is aimed at testing the readiness of the Biomodial Voter Accreditations System (BIVAS).
He said, “Airlifting and delivery of sensitive materials to States of the Federation has gone far. Accreditation of national and international observers and the media is being finalized.
“Critical service providers in the area of transportation have reassured us of their commitment to efficient logistics for the movement of materials and personnel to various locations while the security agencies have reaffirmed their readiness for the election”.
Yakubu stated that twelve polling units have been designated in each state of the federation and four in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on the equality of the country’s 109 senatorial districts for the mock exercise.
“A comprehensive list of the polling units, including their names and PU Code numbers, as well as their distribution by State, Senatorial District, Local Government, and Registration Area (Ward) will be uploaded to the Commission’s website shortly,” he said.
He expressed satisfaction with the desire of Nigerians to collect their voters card, adding that out of the 940,200 PVCs sent to Lagos state, about 839,720 have so far been collected as of Thursday.
Expert Seeks Adequate Security Of Voters, INEC Officials
Noting that the commission is determined to ensure that all Nigerians collect their PVCs ahead of the general elections, he stressed that if necessary the commission may consider other options for the collection of PVCs.
Yakubu noted that the commission has taken delivery of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines for the election.
“We have also dutifully tested each machine in our offices nationwide to ensure its functionality. The next step is to conduct field tests across the country involving actual voters. For this reason, and in readiness for nationwide deployment, the Commission is conducting a mock accreditation of voters similar to what was done ahead of the recent Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections,” he said.
He also appealed to registered voters in the affected polling units to appear on the scheduled date with their PVCs for the mock exercise.
“Doing so will help to reassure the public of the robustness of our system and to strengthen our processes ahead of the General Election. Civil society organisations, the media and the general public are welcome to observe the process. At the end of the exercise, the 436 BVAS machines involved will be reconfigured before they are deployed for the General Election,” he added.
He said training of officials will commence shortly, just as he hinted that ongoing consultations with stakeholders will be intensified.
.”However, the commission is aware that there are a few issues to be addressed. One of them is the ongoing collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs).
“The Commission is encouraged by the determination of registered voters nationwide to collect their PVCs and the actual level of collection so far.
“For instance, in Lagos State, which has the highest number of registered voters in the country, the Commission delivered 940,200 PVCs from the recent voter registration exercise (June 2021 to July 2022) for both new registrants and requests for transfer and replacement of cards. As of yesterday Thursday 26th January 2023, 839,720 PVCs have been collected representing 89.3% of the total figure.
“This meeting with RECs will consider reports from other States of the Federation and the Commission will not hesitate to consider additional measures to ensure that all citizens have ample opportunity to collect their PVCs ahead of the General Election. We wish to assure Nigerians that the Commission will always be responsive to the needs of the electorate,” he said.
Meanwhile, preparations for the mock accreditation and the general election are in top gear across the country.
Our correspondent reports that in Calabar, Cross River State, the security personnel were seen at strategic points beefing up security at INEC state headquarters.
Combat ready armoured carriers are also stationed at the INEC gate probably to repel attempts by hoodlums to attack INEC secretariat.
To access the INEC office probably to have opportunity to interact with any of the administrative officers or head of public Education, visitors must fill visitors’ notebook before given access to the admin offices.
The state resident electoral commissioner (REC), Prof Gabriel Yomere, stated that the commission is fully prepared for conduct of the election.
In Oyo State, INEC has declared that preparations are at their peak ahead of the presidential election and other elections.
The state’s REC, Dr. Adeniran Rahman Tella, told LEADERSHIP WEEKEND that be it national, governorship and state house of assembly elections, the commission started preparations since the conclusion of 2019 general elections with the expansion of voters having access to polling units.
Currently in the state, he said the commission has 6,390 polling units, after which it commenced Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) which was suspended last year for printing of cards and at the same time for eligible registrants to have their PVCs collected accordingly.
He disclosed that guidelines for collection was published starting from December 12, 2022 and to end on January 29, 2023, saying the commission had just concluded devolution to RA/Ward levels from January 6 to January 22.
He said collection is still ongoing in all the 33 INEC LGAs in the state from January 23 to 29.
“As I speak to you now, we have well over 355,940 PVCs that have been collected out of over 900,000 unclaimed PVCs. We have received both sensitive and non-sensitive materials and more are still being expected. Training and re-training of staff/ad-hoc staff is ongoing; campaign activities are also ongoing; meetings with all relevant stakeholders are also ongoing, especially with ICCES members on security issues.”
INEC in Kwara State is prepared to sustain peaceful conduct of elections in the state.
The resident electoral commissioner, Mal Attahiru Madami, told LEADERSHIP Weekend that the state had been recognized for achieving peaceful conduct of elections over the years, especially in 2019.
Madami said some election materials, including BVAS and computers, have been supplied to INEC office in the state.
LEADERSHIP Weekend noticed tight security in and around INEC office in Ilorin.
Policemen and personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and private security guards are keeping vigil at the facility.
The state commissioner of Police, Paul Odama, had during a recent visit to INEC office in Ilorin ordered his men to mount watertight security in all INEC offices in the state.
In Edo State, INEC said it has received a good number of sensitive and non-sensitive materials, assuring Edo people that they are ready to conduct free and fair elections in the state.
The Head of INEC Voters Education in Edo State, Timidi Wariowe, however, disclosed that some of the faulty BVAS received had been returned to the commission’s headquarters in Abuja for replacement.
In terms of security preparedness, ahead of February 25, 2023, the spokesperson noted that much has been done through the inter-agency consultative committee on election security.
“We have received a good number of non-sensitive materials from INEC headquarters. In terms of sensitive-materials only to the BVAS, we have received it and tested the functionality. A few of them are not working and have reported back to our head office in Abuja.
“What is left is only the replacement of them and after that the ICT department will configure the BVAS based on the registered voters per polling unit. Other sensitive materials like the results sheets and ballot paper come from CBN,” he said.
In Benue State, INEC disclosed that they are fully prepared for the forthcoming general election.
Public Relations Officer of the commission, Terkaa Andyar, who disclosed this in a telephone conversation with our correspondent, stated that the state headquarters has taken delivery of both sensitive and non-sensitive materials.
“The commission is well prepared, as you can see,the timetable rollout for the election is being followed judiciously and step by step, however, for now we are on the level of issuing PVCs to prospective voters,” he noted.
On the issue of security, the PRO said enough security personnel have been deployed to the state headquarters of the commission and at the local government areas’ ffices to ensure safety.
Leadership weekend observed a heavily armed security presence at the state headquarters of INEC office during a visit.
The head, department of voter education and publicity, of INEC in Kaduna State, Hajia Ruqqaiyya S. Imam, said preparations are in top gear ahead of the general election.
She said, “We have started receiving both sensitive and non-sensitive materials since. The sensitive materials are all secured while some of the non-sensitive materials are already in the local government offices. The one we have at hand now is the BVAS machine, which is in our office and very secured”.
INEC in Imo State said all is now set for the forthcoming as all adhoc staff have been recruited and trained for the exercise.
This was made known by the REC in the state, Prof Sylvia Agu, while interacting with LEADERSHIP.
According to her, adequate arrangements and logistics have been put in place so as to ensure hitch free election in the state.
Prof. Agu noted that all the sensitive and non-sensitive materials are being warehoused in the Central Bank.
When LEADERSHIP Weekend visited the commission’s office, scores of various security personnel made up of the Police, Army, Civil Defence and Department of State Services (DSS) had been deployed in its offices in the state due to the frequency of attacks.
In Ekiti State, INEC expressed its readiness for the conduct of the 2023 general election.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Weekend in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, the INEC head of Voter Education/Publicity in the state, Temitope Akanmu, said machineries have been set in motion for hitch- free polls.
Akanmu said the human capacity of the election administration has been sorted and the training will commence next week.
Speaking on the election materials, he said, “All our non-sensitive materials have arrived and they are being deployed to various local government offices. The batching of the materials to various Registration Areas (RAs) and Polling Units (PUs) have equally been concluded.”
In Rivers State, a visit by LEADERSHIP Weekend to the state office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Port Harcourt showed that the electoral body is ready to conduct the 2023 general election in the state.
A staff member who pleaded anonymity told our correspondent that the body has concluded the distribution of permanent voter’s cards (PVCs) at the ward level and has moved the exercise to the commission’s local government offices.
He described the turn-out for collection of PVCs at the ward level as ‘very impressive.’
The INEC staff stated that the commission has received a large number of sensitive and non-sensitive materials, including BVAS for the forthcoming election.
INEC in Enugu also confirmed that it has received non sensitive materials.
The head, Voter Education and Publicity, for INEC in Enugu, Chuka Achuie, disclosed this to our correspondent in Enugu.
He, however, stated that they were still waiting for sensitive materials, saying they are hoping to get them before the election.
He disclosed that they have been having meetings with security agencies on how adequate security would be provided during the election.
In Osun State, adequate security arrangements are on ground to protect facilities at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) state headquarters, Osogbo.
A visit by LEADERSHIP WEEKEND to the headquarters located along Gbongan road in Osogbo revealed the presence of security operatives at strategic locations in and around the secretariat to ensure human and materials security.
Though sensitive materials are being awaited, non-sensitive materials are already on ground and under tight security.
INEC information officer in Osun, Osimosu Oluwaseun, stated that the commission is working round the clock to ensure a free, fair and hitch free polls.
In Delta State, the commission said it is ready for the general elections next month.
The state REC, Rev Monday Udoh Tom, disclosed that the commission has attained close to the 14 activities lined up for the 2023 general election, including the publication of notice of election, collection of Forms EC9 on INEC website to be issued to candidates, conduct of party primaries, submission of Forms EC9, publication of personal particulars of candidates, last day of withdrawal/replacement of candidates, last day for submission of nomination forms by political parties and the publication of final list of nominated candidates by the Commission.
The REC said there had also been commencement of campaign by political parties in public, deadline for submission of names of polling agents through the Commission’s dedicated portal, publication of official register of voters, publication of notice of poll, deadline for campaigns by political parties and March 9, 2023 date of election
INEC in Akwa Ibom State has assured of adequate preparations in place to conduct and deliver hitch-free polls in all the polling units spread across the 329 political wards carved out of the 31 local government areas of the state.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP at the weekend in Uyo, the state capital, the Head, Voter Education and Publicity, Odaro Aisien, allayed fears of postponement of the polls, assuring that “the commission is ready for the exercise.
“Everything is in place. We have received part of the ballot materials and all of them are stored in a full-proof and secured facility, and before long we will take full delivery of all the sensitive and non-sensitive items for the conduct of the elections,” he added.
Muhammad Abbani Takai, head of Voter Education and Publicity of INEC in Sokoto State said the non-sensitive electoral materials in the state are under safe custody in the store.
“We have started sending the non-sensitive electoral materials out to local governments across the state and we are doing in synergy with security personnel for their safe keeping,” he noted.