By Chuks Okocha in Abuja
With less than 48 hours to the presidential and National Assembly elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Wednesday said it had started the distribution of sensitive materials to different locations in the country.
INEC’s Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, disclosed this at meeting with Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room election day situation room in Abuja.
He disclosed that from the 2019 general election, the commission would move for the electronic transmission of results.
Situation Room is a coalition of over 60 civil society organisations.
Jega stated that party agents could accompany INEC officials from the polling unit to collation centre to avoid a repeat of the 2011 elections where results declared at the collation centre were at variance with those at polling units.
He said: “For long, all our non-sensitive electoral materials had been taken to the local government offices. Commencing from today, the sensitive materials will be retrieved from the vault of the central bank, taken to our state offices, accompanied by agents of political parties. And then from later this evening to tomorrow (today) morning, this will be distributed to the various local governments in the states and they will also be accompanied from the state to the local government areas by party agents.
“And then, at the state level, we expect that from tomorrow (today’s) evening until around Friday afternoon, all the materials taken to the local government areas will also be distributed to the ward levels.
“At each ward level, we have established what we call Registration Area Centre and we have equipped it reasonably to ensure that both our staff and security agencies spend the few hours of the night there in readiness to deploy very early in the morning to the various polling units in each of those wards.”
He promised that beyond the 2015 general election, INEC will continue to engage the civil society organisations and continue to build on mutually beneficial relationship.
While saying that the same methodology used in 2011 will also be adopted in announcing the results this year, Jega, however, disclosed that electronic transmission of results is possible in the 2019 polls.
While he stressed that he had done everything possible to ensure that the polls are successful, Jega pointed out that the commission would improve the process of collation of result at this year’s exercise.
“Although we did a piloting of electronic transmission of results, we piloted it starting from the 2012 governorship elections in Cross River State, even the senatorial by-election which we did in Niger State, we also tested it, but we decided that we will not put that electronic transmission of results to use in the 2015 general election.
“We can see the reactions from the innovation of using the card readers and we felt that we should just cope with that rather than create additional challenges about electronic transmission of results. And we felt that let’s keep piloting it and improving up on it beyond 2015 and hopefully by 2019 general election, the commission would here gotten there where it can do full electronic transmission of results,” he noted.
According to him, politicians are opposing the use of card readers because it checkmates alteration of accreditation figures.
Earlier, Inspector General of Police (IG), Sulaiman Abba, said the police were fully prepared for the polls, just as the spokesman of Situation Room, Clement Nwankwo, posited that beyond the partisan divisions and outcomes of the electoral contests, the future of Nigeria is the main issue at stake.
The election day situation room, he added, would be opened throughout the next couple of days until the results are announced.
The centre would also provide regular analyses, updates and statements on the progress of the election.
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