Mu’azu, Zakari head INEC Logistics, Collation Committees

Mu’azu, Zakari head INEC Logistics, Collation Committees

…It’s a Clear Indication the People’s Vote Will be Subverted, says PDP The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Thursday, floated two vital ad-hoc committees as part of its preparations for the 2019 general elections. The two committees, Electoral Logistics and Collation Centre, were inaugurated by INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at the Commission’s headquarters

It’s a Clear Indication the People’s Vote Will be Subverted, says PDP

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Thursday, floated two vital ad-hoc committees as part of its preparations for the 2019 general elections. The two committees, Electoral Logistics and Collation Centre, were inaugurated by INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

The Electoral Logistics Committee is chaired by INEC National Commissioner,‎ Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Mu’azu (rtd) with INEC Director of Stores as Secretary while the committee on Results Collation, chaired by another National Commissioner, Mrs Amina Zakari has INEC Director, Commission’s Secretariat as Secretary.

But miffed by the appointment of Mrs Zakari, a relation of President Muhammadu Buhari to supervise collation of results, the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) says this is a clear indication that the election process will be subverted.

“The Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organization (PPCO) outrightly, vehemently and unequivocally rejects, in its entirety, the appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari, President Buhari’s blood relation, as the head of the collation of results, in the same election in which her uncle, President Buhari, as a candidate, has displayed a huge desperation to win.”

“The appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari, who had been openly accused in various quarters as being the link person between INEC and the Buhari Presidency in their schemes to rig the election for President Buhari, constitutes a direct violence against the Presidential election and the PDP will not, in any way, whatsoever, accept it.”

While inaugurating the two committees, the INEC chairman said it was another step in the commission’s determination to ensure seamless preparations for the 2019 general elections.

Yakubu said that the Electoral Logistics Committee would be responsible for coordinating logistics, as well as the clearance and transportation of electoral materials to various locations nationwide.

“The first committee is responsible for electoral logistics. The Commission is aware that the conduct of a general election is the biggest and most complex logistics operation a nation can undertake.”

“Sensitive and non-sensitive materials procured by the Commission must be delivered to almost 200,000 locations nationwide.”

“Ranging from the polling units to the various wards, local governments, states and the national collation centres for the 1,558 constituencies into which elections will be conducted. At the end of the elections, sensitive materials will be retrieved from the same locations.”

“The same process will be repeated for each of the two phases of the 2019 general elections. Namely the Presidential and National Assembly elections holding on February 16 and the Governorship, State Assembly and Area Council election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on March 2,’’ the INEC chairman said.

Yakubu said that the Committee on National Collation Centre, which was entirely internal to the commission, would be responsible for the National Collation Centre from where results of the Presidential election would be announced.

According to him, the Commission will use the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Abuja as was the case in 2015.

“Already, the management of the ICC has approved the commission’s request to once again use the venue in 2019. It will serve as the secretariat for collation of results and venue for briefing of international observers and the media. It will also be accessible to agents of the 73 political parties fielding candidates in the presidential election.”

“Facilities such as power, access to the internet, live transmission for national and international media as well as accreditation for access to the ICC and security of the venue shall be handled by the committee,‘’ he said.

Yakubu assured Nigerians that “the Commission is on course to deliver credible elections in 2019’’.

He also noted that the commission would meet with the national leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Friday in Abuja, to discuss the ongoing strike by the union, only in relation to the INEC preparations for the general elections.”

“We are concerned that the bulk of critical election duty staff are drawn from the universities. We are determined to ensure that the processes are not affected by the union’s industrial action. ASUU is a critical partner to the commission in delivering credible elections. We look forward to the meeting and we are confident of a positive outcome,’’ the INEC chairman said.

Yakubu said that INEC had contacted the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) as the Commission was already in partnership with one of its affiliate unions, the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).

“The Commission plans to meet with the NLC next week,’’ he said.

The INEC chairman also listed members of the Logistics Committee to include National Commissioners Mr Abubakar Lamuche and Malam Muhammed Haruna, the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Nigeria Immigration Service, Federal Road Safety Corps and the Nigeria Police.

It also include the Department of State Services, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Nigerian Army, Navy and Air Force, the INEC Director, Electoral Operations ‎and Logistics Department, INEC Director of Estate Works and Transport, and INEC‎ Director of Procurement.

Responding, Mu’azu pledged that they would deliver the responsibilities with all sense of diligence.

“The committee will do whatever needs to be done to guarantee a seamless delivery of men and materials to the right place at the right time and in the right quantity and of course, guarantee retrieval of same after the two elections.”

“I want to also assure you that we appreciate and very clear in our minds the gravity of what is on our hands. Therefore, we shall hit the ground running, ‘’ he said.

INEC, has also unveiled a special app, to address electoral malpractice and check vote buying ahead of the forthcoming 2019 general elections. The app will provide Nigerians the opportunity to give report on observations from their polling unit.

The app which can be freely downloaded through the INEC website or google play store has geo-referencing features which can enable officials of the Commission identify wherever challenges may arise and alert security agencies to take charge in any part of the country.

Dr Mustapha Leeky, INEC’s National Commissioner, noted that the app was developed to address the new phenomenon of “vote buying” which partly characterized recent elections in some states of the federation.

Leeky who doubles as Chairman, Board of the Electoral Institute (BEI) stated this last Thursday, while declaring open a three-day workshop on Electoral Security Training of Trainers Workshop for State Training Officers in Abuja

He said, “We have deployed something that most of you media men are paying little regards to, that is the fact, as at today, if you go to INEC website or google play you can download an INEC i-reporter which is something that INEC has spent a lot of money in developing.

“It allows every Nigerian to be an observer and a reporter of events as it happens, this you can download freely and have it on your smart phones, so you can take pictures, you can also take a short video and send it to us, it is geo-reference, so we know exactly where that issue is taking place and we can easily draw the attention of the police or other security agencies to make sure that matter is actually addressed”.

Speaking on vote buying which allegedly characterized recent elections, the INEC Commissioner said the commission has deployed a number of measures to ensure it does not interfere with the electoral process in 2019.

“Our take on vote buying has been well articulated at various fora like this, we abhor it, we think it is uncalled for, you do not need to sell your vote and you do not need to buy votes, INEC as an institution, we don’t buy votes and we don’t sell votes, we just count the votes.”

“So we expect people to cast their votes freely, we have deployed a number of measures to ensure that vote buying does not interfere with our election, we have reconfigured the way our polling units and the ballot box are placed, so that people cannot expose their votes, so that people can go and collect money after wards, we have also banned the use of smart phones in the polling booth so that you don’t take a picture and show to anyone,” he stated.

He said the workshop to train security personnel was inspired by the need to ensure the 2019 election is conducted in a hitch free manner.

Dr Umar Idris, Acting Director, the Electoral Institute(TEI) on his part said the training exercise was meant to ensure adequate preparations for the security personnel, especially on the need to stay neutral during the 2019 polls.

“They need to understand the terms of engagement for a peaceful credible election, we need to secure the environment for people to have a very happy and pleasant voting experience, security is very important, we know there are challenges across a number of places in the country, we believe the government is doing whatever it can to ensure that it is addressed, INEC is not a security outfit we can only work with the security agencies to ensure that the right thing is done and Nigeria is a very hopeful country so we believe that the atmosphere will be secured for a credible election” 

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in a statement signed by Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, director, media and publicity of its Presidential Campaign Council (PPCO), again “alerted Nigerians of another heinous machination by the Buhari Presidency and the INEC to subvert the will of the people and rig the February 16, Presidential election.”

“You will recall that we have been raising the flag on how the Buhari Presidency, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and some individuals at the echelon of INEC have been seeking ways to compromise our electoral processes and open the way for the allocation of fictitious votes to President Muhammadu Buhari, having realized that he cannot win in a credible, free and fair polls.”

“Today, we have been informed that the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, apparently in furtherance of the plots to rig the Presidential election, has appointed Mrs. Amina Zakari, a blood relation (niece) of the APC candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, as the Chairperson of INEC Advisory Committee and Presidential election Collation Center Committee.”

“The Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organization (PPCO) outrightly, vehemently and unequivocally rejects, in its entirety, the appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari, President Buhari’s blood relation, as the head of the collation of results, in the same election in which his uncle, President Buhari, as a candidate, has displayed a huge desperation to win.”

“The appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari, who had been openly accused in various quarters as being the link person between INEC and the Buhari Presidency in their schemes to rig the election for President Buhari, constitutes a direct violence against the Presidential election and the PDP will not, in any way, whatsoever, accept it.”

According to the party, “This is the same Amina Zakari, who headed the ICT Department of INEC at the time that department was accused of manipulating the INEC voter register to accommodate fictitious, underage and alien voters, particularly, in remote areas where they plan to allocate and announce conjured votes for President Buhari and the APC.”

“It will interest Nigerians to note that this is the same Amina Zakari that was alleged to have played some roles in the 2018 governorship election in Osun state, where the electoral processes were flagrantly abused.”

“In appointing Mrs. Amina Zakari to head the collation of this Presidential election, Prof. Yakubu has confirmed that he has been compromised and that he has already succumbed to pressure by the Buhari Presidency and APC to open the way for the self-succession of President Buhari.”

“The fact remains that there is no way Amina Zakari will not allocate votes to her blood relation, President Buhari, whom Nigerians have indicated clearly that they are not ready to return to office as President. With Amina Zakari at the head of results collation, there is no way votes cast by Nigerians will count.”

“We, therefore, call on all Nigerians and particularly the National Peace Committee to note that with the appointment of Amina Zakari, as head the collation of Presidential results, the INEC Chairman is setting the stage for a very huge political crisis, which is capable of derailing our democratic process.”

“We also urge the United Nations and other global democratic institutions to take copious note of this noxious appointment by the INEC Chairman. If the INEC Chairman wants a peaceful Presidential election, he should, with the speed of light, reverse himself on this appointment.”

“In fact, the PPCO reiterates its position that for us to have a peaceful election, Mrs. Amina Zakari should not be seen anywhere near any of the 2019 election processes, not to talk of being involved in the collation of Presidential results,”

“The PDP remains committed to a peaceful and credible process, but we will never, in any way, allow anybody to use any means, under any guise whatsoever, to rig us out in this election. Not after it is clear that Nigerians have attained a consensus to rally behind our Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, as their next President.”

“All we ask for is a free, fair, credible and transparent electoral process in which the votes of Nigerians will not only count but will be seen to have counted. Like Mr. President said during his 2019 budget presentation at the National Assembly, the world is watching us,” it stated.

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