From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
The National Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, on Tuesday, declared that the destruction of some offices of electoral umpire and election materials in some parts of the country, would not deter the Commission from conducting a credible poll in 2023.
Yakubu stated this while fielding questions from newsmen after inspecting the premises of Abeokuta South Local Government, INEC office, at Iyana Mortuary area of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
The INEC boss who led other members of the Commission, on a one-day working visit to Ogun, submitted that residents of the affected local government area would not be disenfranchised in any way, despite the loss of 65,699 Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), to the fire incident that occured at the premises on November 10.
He explained that efforts were on to reprint the cards for collection, and subsequently for voting in the elections.
“The purpose of our visit to this office is to further access 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 in spite 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 acts 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 the office.
He urged all stakeholders to remain confident, insisting that the elections will hold, despite the attacks on some of its offices nationwide.
“As soon we get the VIN numbers to be harvested by the state office, we will reprint, it doesn’t take longer than two days to print 65,000 PVCs, but we have to get the Voter Identification Numbers for the cards that were lost so that we can quickly reprint. It doesn’t take longer than two days to reprint those PVCs.
“It is very disappointing, particularly because, in the last four, five months, of our offices were attacked nationwide, but this will never deter us, we will make sure that we replace burnt and destroyed equipment and also reprint the PVCs and conduct elections.
“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 in spite of this very temporary setback,” the INEC boss stressed.
Earlier, during a courtesy 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 the traditional rulers.
Oba Gbadebo in his remarks 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.