16 September 2017
…Commissioner hints far-reaching efforts for smooth, credible polls
By Chidiebere Ejike
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, in Anambra State, Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji has said that no fewer than two million voters have been registered for the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State. He also says 35 candidates would participate in the November 18 governorship election.
Orji who spoke during a meeting with Electoral Officers and members of the Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, in Awka, said the comprehensive list of registered voters would be printed in the next three weeks, adding that they would be published in three instalments in all the Local Government Areas of the state.
He forecasts that the Biafra agitation, general discontentment in the South-East and the security challenges were the three elements that would define the election and may rub-off on the electoral process.
On the issue of security during the election period, Orji noted that there would be massive deployment of security operatives, explaining that of the 21,000 security personnel that would be needed for the election, about 2,000 were already on ground.
He added that the state INEC would seek approval from the national headquarters to source for ad-hoc staff from tertiary institutions in and around the State to supplement the about 7,000 to be provided by the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC.
Orji also said that INEC would monitor the campaigns to look out for hate speech and other unwholesome conducts, warning political parties and their candidates to play the game according to the rules.
He stated that one of the measures being taken to ensure free and fair election was to move around the staff of INEC and transfer those who were due to move out of the state.
In his words, “We discovered that contrary to election principles, many staff of INEC have stayed too long in their duty posts. We also discovered that even when INEC transferred people out of Anambra, they found their way back and we have ensured that those who were due for transfer should go. We have also changed all the Electoral Officers in the 21 local government areas as part of measures to ensure free and fair poll.”
Orji, who assumed office recently as the INEC boss in the state, also said that 35 governorship candidates would contest the election, stressing that political parties that conducted their primaries without inviting INEC should realize that they embarked on illegal exercise as their candidates would not participate in the election. According to him, INEC had also asked the successful candidates from the INEC-monitored primaries to provide the commission with their detailed profile, including their background, educational qualifications, among other information for necessary action.
Orji also cautioned against the heavy presence of the military during the election which according to him might scare voters from freely exercising their franchise, even as he emphasized the need for adequate mobilization of the police to ensure they carry out their duties efficiently.
He also said the challenges facing the commission were funding, erratic power supply, bureaucratic delay and discontentment on the part of voters, but assured that the commission has the ability to surmount these challenges.