*Security on high alert
*As North makes final push
*Nigerians have the final say – ACF
ABUJA-INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, yesterday, directed all presiding officers of the commission to paste results of elections at the polling units as demanded by the electoral procedure.
This came just as the commission began the distribution of the last batch of sensitive electoral materials to its state offices, yesterday.
Meanwhile, the nation’s security agencies are putting in place arrangements to raise the status of alertness.
The materials being distributed at press time were the ballot papers. An INEC source said the ballot papers had been with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in the last 48 to 72 hours but the directive to distribute them was given yesterday. All offices of the INEC had received the result sheets as of Thursday afternoon, the source added.
At the Lagos office of the INEC, yesterday, officers busied themselves receiving the materials and getting them arranged for distribution to all parts of the state.
Lagos INEC Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Ayodele Folami, said the commission would ensure that all the materials were distributed last night to avoid unnecessary hitches.
On declaration of results, Folami said apart from polling booth announcement, results of the presidential polls from the states would be transmitted to the National Collation Centre, Abuja, to be announced by the National Returning Officer.
Unlike in the past when the national chairman was the automatic returning officer for the presidential election, Folami said he was not certain if INEC boss, Prof Attahiru Jega, would function as the returning officer because it was not yet clear if Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, would announce governorship election results.
The INEC hierarchy recently toyed with the idea of getting highly placed citizens as was done in 2003, to serve as state returning officers. Former Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos, Prof. Ibidapo Obe, served as a returning officer for the 2003 guber polls in Lagos.
Paste results, Jega orders
Jega also directed all presiding officers of the commission to paste results of elections at the polling units as demanded by the electoral procedure.
The INEC chairman who said this when the European Union election observation group visited him in Abuja argued that this was necessary to guarantee transparency and ensure greater fairness in the polling process.
Jega who asked voters to ensure that results were pasted at the polling units after tabulation, however, expressed worries that the commission received reports that results were not pasted in some polling units during the National Assembly elections.
He said: “Once the results were tabulated, they must be pasted. This is in order to bring additional credibility in the polling process.”
Jega said that other challenges that confronted the National Assembly election included late commencement of voting process due to late arrival of materials and some missing names in the voters’ register, adding: “We hope there will be remarkable improvement by next Saturday.”
The commission chairman also appealed to Nigerians to endure the inconveniences they have to go through during the on-going general elections adding that it was a necessary sacrifice they had to make in order to ensure that the electoral process is credible.
Commenting on the commission’s preparations for tomorrow’s presidential polls, Jega noted that procedures for voting would be more strictly complied with adding that accreditation of voters would be strengthened.
He said: “Some of the challenges of accreditation have been addressed. We have also taken steps to correct the omission of names of voters from the register at some polling centres. Our hope is that the presidential election would be better conducted than what obtained last Saturday.”
He further stated that despite the expected larger turn-out of voters, “we are committed to strengthening the commission’s logistics.”
The INEC boss said he held meetings with 13 National Commissioners and 37 Residential Electoral Commissioners of the electoral body for the purpose of ensuring that the presidential poll is better conducted than the National Assembly elections.
Vanguard gathered, yesterday, that following the failed last ditch efforts of a former president, a former vice president, a former national security adviser, a former police inspector general and some elder statesmen from the North to salvage whatever was left of the CPC/ACN alliance, today’s congregations across the North offers another opportunity to drive home the message for the emergence of a Nigerian president of Northern extraction.
Whereas the Electoral Act bars all forms of campaigns 24hours to any election, “the window of opportunity a Friday sermon affords can not be discountenanced and it is a normal thing. We expect to see very conservative leaders and clerics employing that as a means of getting their message across.”