As the countdown to the elections get closer, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has again reassured Nigerians that they are prepared for the forth coming elections. This was made known by Mr. Akin Orebiyi, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of INEC for Lagos, at a media forum themed “2015 Elections: Xraying INEC and other
As the countdown to the elections get closer, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has again reassured Nigerians that they are prepared for the forth coming elections. This was made known by Mr. Akin Orebiyi, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of INEC for Lagos, at a media forum themed “2015 Elections: Xraying INEC and other institutional preparations for the election”.
According to Mrs. Ijeoma Igbokwe, the Head of Voter Education, who represented the Lagos REC at the forum organized by the International Press Centre with the support of the UNDP Democratic Governance for Development (DGD) project, the electoral materials for the 2015 elections have been improved upon, with additional features to make for detection and possible stoppage of electoral malpractices.
She said “Security features of electoral materials have been improved and serially numbered; the ballot papers are now coloured. This will discourage fraud and moving of papers”
“We now have security codes for ballot boxes. The red ballot box represents the presidential, black for the senatorial and the regular green box is for the House of Representatives”, she added.
Commenting on how mistakes would be corrected during sorting of votes, The INEC head of voter education, clarified that ballot papers would be returned to their appropriate boxes. She said, “During sorting, ballot papers will be sorted in their appropriate boxes in case the voters made the mistake of dropping them in the wrong boxes.
Admitting that INEC would need the cooperation of other parties, Igbokwe said “We are going to involve stakeholders in the process of distributing the essential materials. Political parties as well as foreign and local monitors would be with us when picking the box from the central bank”
Explaining how the elections would be coordinated, it was explained that lecturers from Federal Tertiary Institutions would be used as collation officers, civil servants as supervisors while youth corpers would be and have been trained as presiding officers.
Addressing the practicality of the smart card readers which were introduced by INEC for the purpose of the forthcoming elections, Igbokwe stated that the ADHOC staff have been trained and retrained to be conversant with smartcard readers.
“All smart card readers have been received and configured. It is voter friendly and simple to use. The assistant presiding officer will hold the smart card reader, once the card is passed by the back of the reader, all details about the voter will be seen while the identity of the voter will be verified by thumb printing.”
In the event of the smart card not recognizing the voters, Igbokwe explained that the incident reporting form will be made available to the voters, while the electronic voters record would be on ground to act as back up.
Questioning the realism of the coloured ballot papers, Yemisi Aofolaju, Women Editor of Nigerian Tribune, asked if there had been adequate education for those living in the rural areas as the sensitization had been tailored towards the elites only. She also laid emphasis on the durability of the smartcards. In response to this, Igbokwe explained that the card reader has a battery life of 12 hours and that presently there were no issues with it.
In addition, INEC according to Igbokwe has been carrying out various sensitization programs as well as provision of assistant presiding officers in front of the boxes, who will explain to the voters in the case of questions.
Recognizing and paying heed to those with disabilities, Motunrayo Alaka, coordinator, Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism raised the question on how INEC intended to include them. She said, “How does a blind person differentiate between the boxes as they feel the same and are only different by color?”
Similarly, Adekunle Samuel from Nigerian Institute of Journalism also asked how handicaps are expected to thumbprint and if there are other methods in place to ensure they are not disenfranchised. In response to this, Igbokwe stated that since there are no braille ballot papers in the election, people with disabilities can bring someone they trust, who will help them through the voting process.
On the circulation of hate speech, John Gbadamosi from Media Rights Agenda asked if INEC has done anything to curb the spread of these speeches which will undoubtedly keep people away from the polling booths. To this effect, Head of Voter Education, INEC Lagos explained that the commission frowns against hate speech and is currently working in tandem with stakeholders to curb the spread and degeneration of hate speeches.
Getting to difficult terrain areas, could be an issue on the day of election and waste considerable time; This was raised Chima Akwaja from Leadership Newspaper who asked how INEC intended to tackle the issue.
In response, Igbokwe clarified that polling units are at walking distances to collation centres. She said racks have been provided for the officers which would solve all difficult terrain and transportation issue.
In conclusion, Ijeoma Igbokwe noted that priority voting has been introduced, giving women, elders, pregnant women and people with disabilities including the albinos priority treatment on the day of election.