Ahead of tomorrow’s meeting by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), indications have emerged that there may be some sweeping changes among those expected to oversee the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states.
Daily Sun gathered that following the anxiety over a possible shakeup in the electoral body, national commissioners are currently jostling to be in the good books of the re-appointing authorities with fears that they may loosen the procedural bolts that may engender a free and fair process in the governorship elections.
The development came even as sources within the commission told Daily Sun that powerful people are making concerted efforts behind the scenes to influence the list of nominees that would function as Supervising Presiding Officers (SPOs) in the elections.
Part of the tension trailing tomorrow’s meeting is the speculation that the INEC may jettison the use of card readers for authentication of Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and result viewing portals at the polling units at the forthcoming Edo governorship election.
According to our source, one of the conspiracy theories is also that national commissioners whose tenures are due to end in two months may have allegedly traded the Edo and Ondo elections in return for guarantees of re-appointment as patronage from politicians.
Information available from INEC shows that only the re-appointment of Mrs Amina Zakari may be feasible based on her known relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari, despite already serving two tenures.
Daily Sun gathered that at INEC’s meeting last week Thursday, the z-Pad procedure for biometrics was thrown out, meaning it would not be used in the Edo election next week. Another very important feature to enhance election integrity is the polling units public results viewing portal demonstrated in Nasarawa bye election three weeks ago but which may be jettisoned this time.
Our sources warned that the implication of jettisoning the Nasarawa bye-election model is that anybody with a Permanent Voters Card can vote without the rigours of authentication with the likelihood of not having a free and fair election.
It was learnt that the possible non-deployment of the z-Pad would be inserted into the document that would emanate from the meeting to give it legal backing as the election manual serves as a code of operations for ad hoc staff and must stay within the letters of the document in their conduct of elections.
Another source of disquiet at the commission headquarters, according to an insider in INEC, is the list of Supervising Presiding Officers, SPOs. The strategic importance of SPOs is their oversight of distribution of election materials, particularly ballot papers and election result sheets. But there are concerns that some powerful people are making moves behind the scenes to have inputs into the names of those to be appointed as SPOs.
“If these powerful forces succeed in having input into the list of SPO’s, the potential for a disruptive outcome is that critical and sensitive election materials may not be effectively distributed to cater for all areas within the voting jurisdiction, thereby fueling tension and heightening fears that the election may be compromised,” the source said.