Wole Balogun, Ado Ekiti
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday reassured the public that it would stop any individual or group from rigging the forthcoming July 14 governorship poll in Ekiti State.
The electoral umpire said it is partnering with European Centre For Electoral Support (ECES) for the training of staff to get used to modern and digitalized electoral processes, under the Election Monitoring and Support Centre (EMSC) implementers workshop.
The Commission also disclosed that it is compulsory for the members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Ekiti to serve as electoral officers in the election, describing the poll as a critical national assignment that was a statutory obligation for any corps member.
INEC also said staff and students of federal institutions in the state will be deployed to make up for the shortfall recorded in the number of NYSC required to conduct the election, saying this was not an attempt to vitiate or compromise the integrity of the election.
Speaking at the Ekiti State EMSC Workshop organized for INEC staff in Ado Ekiti on Thursday, the National Commissioner in charge of Ekiti, Oyo and Osun States, Prince Adedeji Soyebi, commended ECES for taking an interest in ensuring the integrity of Nigerian elections.
“The EMSC is a programme specially conceived to give skills to staff of this Commission. We have passed through many trainings, but this is very special and important. So we appreciate the European Union for this help,” Soyebi said.
On the allegations by Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose that it was wrong to draw students of Federal University, Oye Ekiti to conduct the election, Soyebi said: “I don’t need to join issues with them at this level , because that is the standard practice anywhere.
“We want to draw them into the election to supplement the shortfall in the number of corps members to be used. We started this is 2011 and they have to be students and staff of federal universities.”
Soyebi said those accused of illegally purchasing the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) from owners were wasting their times and resources, saying: “No one can vote for anybody by proxy, because we will test the fingerprints.”
He added that the more voter-friendly enhanced Smart Card Readers will be deployed for the conduct of the election.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Ekiti, Prof Abdulganiy Raji, assured that INEC will be neutral in the election.
Lending credence to the position maintained by Soyebi on the use of students as electoral officers, Raji disclosed that: “We needed 10,500 youth corps members and we have 6,500 in Ekiti as of now out which 1,500 will be discharged by July 7.
“With this, we need additional 5,500 staff, and these we can only get through students and staff of federal schools. We are in the 6th week of training for them. They are being screened and trained to get the required skills.
“It is a compulsory exercise and they have to participate,” the REC stated.
The Director of ECES , Mr David Le Notre, praised INEC for taking a giant step to rebrand the country’s electoral system.
Notre said the body will continue to lend support to Nigeria to overcome challenges impeding the conduct of credible poll that meets international standards.