Rose Ejembi, Makurdi and Paul Orude, Bauchi
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged Nigerians to be vigilant and insist that political parties and their candidates do the right thing, to ensure a free fair, transparent and credible elections in 2019.
INEC’s National Commissioner supervising Benue, Anambra and Enugu states, Festus Okoye, gave the advice during an interface with the media and Civil Society Organisations, in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, at the weekend.
Okoye, who stressed that the electoral umpire was working round the clock to ensure the votes of the people count, added: “We want to ensure that, at the end of the elections, the votes of the people count.”
He further said INEC had set up a special committee that would fashion out legal, registration and voting frameworks for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) across Nigeria, including Benue State.
While stating that the measure would guarantee their participation and protection in the 2019 general elections, the INEC commissioner said the step became necessary to make sure all those who were displaced from their original homes, as a result of one crisis or the others, including flooding, were not disenfranchised
He, however, warned security agencies, civil society organisations, the media and other stakeholders to shun partisanship and concentrate on discharging their duties to the benefit of the country.
“Stakeholders need to play their parts properly, including security agencies, the political class and the media, among others, to ensure a peaceful and successful conduct of the 2019 general elections.
On his part, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in charge of Benue State, Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda, said the commission has started recovering people’s permanent voter cards (PVCs) in some parts of Benue.
“It was discovered that some politicians are complicit in this by deceiving villagers, especially internally displaced persons (IDPs) to submit their PVCs, so they could keep same for them, or ask for their PVCs in exchange for fertilisers. In Ushongo Local Government alone, over 600 PVCs were mopped up in one of the villages.
Yilwatda said the names of governorship and senatorial candidates in the state would not be displayed until the window for substitution of candidates closes on December 2, 2018.
Meanwhile, a group, Grassroots Network 4 Atiku (GN4A) 2019, Bauchi State Chapter, has charged INEC to provide a level playing field for all aspirants. The group called on INEC to conduct free, fair and credible elections in 2019.
Chairman of the group, Alhaji Dahiru Muhammad Jamda, and Secretary General, Elfaruk Adamu Gado, said this while briefing newsmen, in Bauchi, at the weekend, after meeting with officials of the 20 local governments.
Jamda said the meeting was to strategise in order to get more support for former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, who is the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in 2019.