INDEPENDENT National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said yesterday told political actors that the commission will not allow itself to be dragged into fatuous debate, as it is presently focused on forthcoming general elections.
Yakubu spoke yesterday during an audience with the European Union Observer Mission delegation led by its Chief of Mission, Mrs. Marie Arena.
Nigeria is expected to go to the polls on February 16 for presidential and National Assembly polls. March 2 will be for the governorship and state assemblies’ polls
He described allegations by political actors against the commission as usual and, therefore, urged the general public to disregard them.
Yakubu, who also spoke on the allegation of outsourcing the recruitment of personnel for the elections through partisan actors, described the allegation as falser.
He said: “There is a clearly established system of vetting all election duty staff before they are engaged. Therefore, the claim that the commission has outsourced the recruitment of election duty staff to partisan actors is the usual allegation on the eve of elections and should be disregarded.”
He added: “With 25 days to the 2019 general elections, the commission’s attention is firmly focused on the conduct of credible elections. We will not be distracted into a fatuous debate.”
INEC boss revealed one of the latest vote-buying strategies planned for the 2019 general elections; saying that some politicians and their agents are planning to use food vendors around polling units as collection points for cash-for-votes as well as other material inducement to voters on election day.
Yakubu, however, said the commission was aware of the trick, which he said would not work.
He also informed his guests that the commission is training election duty staff in addition to voter education and sensitisation.
The EU Chief of Mission noted that the democracy is important for the growth of any nation and, therefore, urged INEC to work for democracy.
She noted that the EU Mission is deploying 40 long-term observers to the country for the 2019 general elections.
Mrs. Arena added that the body is expected to come up with two reports after the elections.
The final report, she said, will be ready after two months of the elections; stressing that recommendations will be made to the electoral body as usual.
She also want the commission to state its concern and priority.
Yakubu, who also received the delegation of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Observer Mission, said since the conclusion of party primaries, the commission has been invited 639 times by the court over party primaries.
Besides, he said INEC has received 186 petitions from aggrieved parties and candidates. Also, 584 requests have been made to the commission for certified copies of documents.