INEC in Akwa Ibom State Distributes 1.7 million PVCs
– – received 2,104,812 ballot papers
– – distributed 1,795,635, that is 85.31%
– – discovered 22 hidden polling units
– – 309,172 unclaimed PVCs
By: Edet Eyo Bassey
These disclosures were made by Mr. Mike Igini (Esq.), the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at a workshop/townhall meeting in Uyo the state capital. The workshop was at the instance of Pan African Women Projects in partnership with INEC. The townhall meeting was an advocacy workshop towards a transparent, peaceful and credible 2019 general election. According to the organizers, the event is an action plan for the total elimination of electoral offences including vote buying, political thuggery, intimidation and violence.
In her welcome speech, the Team Leader and Head of Mission, Pan African Women Project, South Africa Dr. (Mrs.) Eben Udensi highlighted the peculiarity of elections in Nigeria. She noted the proficiency of INEC particularly regarding timely delivery of election results notwithstanding the size and population of the country. She commended the feat recorded by INEC in contrast with elections conducted in countries like Sierra Leone the size of Akwa Ibom with less population but which national electoral body takes weeks to announce results.
Dr. Udensi regretted the malfeasance that characterizes elections in Nigeria. Citing the most recent Ekiti and Osun elections, Udensi condemned incidence of election violence, thuggery, ballot snatching and vote buying. She said Pan African Women Project, South Africa is in partnership with INEC to add value to electoral processes in Africa. She expressed delight with the presence of Royal fathers, Christian leaders, women and youths at the event.
Speaking on-behalf of the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, the Director, voter education/publicity Mr. Anthony B. Patta disclosed that the commission was prepared to conduct free, fair and credible elections. He said what constitutes free election are freedom of participation, safety of the process and environment. He said a fair electoral process is the scenario where INEC, security agencies, political parties, institutions of government and all the electoral stake-holders including the judiciary are fair to all.
He revealed that Akwa Ibom state has so far received 2,104,812 ballot papers and distributed 1,795,635, that is 85.31% with 309,172 unclaimed PVCs. He said INEC had uncovered and invalidated 22 hidden polling units in the state located at properties hitherto occupied by government establishments.
Patta further disclosed that Akwa Ibom has never had a free, fair and credible elections since 1999 and assured that the commission has initiated measures to tackle volatile areas and address uncertain issues anticipated in the electoral process of the state. As part of the measures initiated by the Commission to conduct and ensure a free, fair and credible elections this year, the INEC boss posited that;
– Collection of PVCs had been made easier by delivery at the wards.
– Commission has identified and analysed problem/conflict areas.
– INEC is working in tandem with security agencies to forestall conflicts.
– INEC had embarked on continuous voter education and confidence building exercise via radio/TV talk show.
Speaking further the INEC boss affirmed the use of card reader in the forth-coming election saying it was merely for authentication of PVC and identification of the voter. He said INEC recognizes political parties as the most important element in the electoral process revealing that their activities were under watch by the commission. He expressed disappointment at the conduct of the last primaries by political parties saying there were noisy and mostly inconclusive. He admonished Parties to minimize conflicts, eschew violence and campaign with facts and agenda for the electorate. He advised politicians to refrain from vote-buying as it constitutes a criminal offence and undermines the electoral process. He encouraged women participation and implored youths to reject violent conducts of any kind but rather demand for jobs and educational scholarships. No cameras, he said will be allowed at the voting point and assured that electoral offenders shall be prosecuted and punished.
There was interaction by political parties and questions and answers session.
The event which was held at Ibom hall yesterday, Thursday 17th was very well attended with heads of military formation, Police and other security agencies in attendance. The Ntisong Ibibio HRM, Edidem (Dr.) Essien Ekidem was present. Only two political Parties, APC represented by Barr. Edet Eyo Bassey and Arc. Usen Ebong and the PDP represented by the State Secretary, Mr. Harrison Ekpo and another were in attendance.
Dr. Amadu Attai, the APC Deputy Governorship candidate who was invited as a special guest of honour was represented by Barr. Solomon Etuk.