ABEOKUTA – The National Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, has assured that the destruction of some offices of the electoral umpire and election materials in some states would not deter the Commission from conducting a credible poll.
Yakubu spoke, yesterday, in Abeokuta during an assessment tour of its office recently attacked by hoodlums. He described the arsonists as undemocratic and retrogressive elements.
Arsonists had on November 10 torched the commission’s office at Iyana Mortuary, Abeokuta South Local Government Area, and destroyed over 65,699 Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
The INEC chairman said the commission would not be cowed by activities of the arsonists, saying five facilities had been attacked nationwide in the last four months.
He said efforts to replace the materials lost to the inferno were already being made by the commission.
“The purpose of our visit to this office is to further assess the extent of damage, to meet our own staff, particularly in the place where they have relocated to in Oke-Ilewo, to boost their morale and to assure the people of Abeokuta South that inspite of this unfortunate incident, elections will hold in Abeokuta South in 2023.
“Whatever materials we have lost, the Commission is making efforts to replace the materials. We lost 65,699 PVCs, we want to assure all those that have not collected their PVCs and who may have been affected that we are making plans to reprint the PVCs quickly and to bring them back to Abeokuta South for people to collect and vote.
“We want to assure the people of Abeokuta South that this incident, terrible as it is, will not deter and will not discourage us, will not discourage our staff from conducting the 2023 general elections. And we want to once again assure the people of Abeokuta South, the people of Ogun State and the people of Nigeria that the INEC is determined to make the 2023 elections our best ever; we will not be deterred or cowed by act of arson by undemocratic and retrogressive elements,” Yakubu stated.
He stated further that the Commission would commence the reprint process as soon as it gets Voters’ Identification Numbers (VIN) from the state of office.
He urged all stakeholders to remain confident, insisting that the elections will hold, despite the attacks on some of its offices nationwide.
“My message to stakeholders, political parties, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), security agencies and even people like you in the media is to remain confident that elections will hold inspite of this very temporary setback”, the INEC boss stressed.
Earlier, during a call on the Alake and paramount ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, Yakubu sought royal blessings to succeed in the national assignment, adding that the general election requires the support of all stakeholders, including traditional rulers.
Oba Gbadebo promised to support the electoral body in whatever capacity to get the job done successfully.
The monarch noted that the present crop of INEC management has the credibility to succeed in the all important assignment.
Meanwhile, INEC has charged political parties to adhere to their Constitutions as well as ensure internal democracy, especially with regards to women participation in politics.
Mrs Ndidi Okafor, deputy director in charge of Civil Society Organisations at the Commission’s Gender and Exclusivity Department, said this at the “He for She” event for promoting women`s inclusiveness in politics on Tuesday in Abuja.
The event was organized by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in collaboration with the Government of Canada and the United Nations Women.
Okafor said INEC gender policy was to ensure women’s inclusion in politics, as well as maginalized groups and people living with disabilities.
“The essence is to ensure that they participate in the electoral process and that they can vote and be voted for.
“So this event is really in tandem with the work of the commission`s Gender and Exclusivity Department and it is laudable,“ she said.
Okafor said the commission had been meeting regularly with political parties to charge their leadership to ensure internal party democracy and women inclusion in politics.
“The commission is always reminding them that women are not only to clap hands, they also can make contributions to national politics and the country`s development.
“Therefore, the political space both at the executive levels of political parties should be expanded so we can have more women holding executive positions in political parties.
“There is nothing wrong if a woman emerges as the national chairman of any political party.”
Okafo said that although political parties were allowed to implement their manifestoes, the commission was doing a lot in terms of advocacy to remind them to obey their own rules.
“The commission did not give them those rules, they were rules they came up with in their Constitution and in their manifestoes.
“So the commission is reminding them of the importance, it is also not just about the commission but about the people, the media, and Civil Society Organisations. Jointly, we can all keep up and step up this advocacy so that our country would be better off for it,” she said.
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