By Omeiza Ajayi
AHEAD of Saturday’s National and State Assemblies election rerun in Rivers state, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC and security agencies have expressed their readiness for the polls.
At a joint briefing Wednesday at the INEC headquarters in Abuja, Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, flanked by INEC national commissioners and the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, said the commission has already deployed three national commissioners as well as six Resident Electoral Commissioners in the state.
INEC has also deployed both sensitive and non-sensitive electoral materials in the state. The commission was however quick to add that the sensitive materials which arrives Port Harcourt today (Wednesday) would be deployed in the local government areas tomorrow (Thursday).
However, INEC said it is deeply worried about the continued nullifications of elections as well as the cost of conducting election rerun.
Yakubu said elections would hold in all the 23 local government areas of the state comprising of 319 wards or registration areas and a total of 5, 942 Polling Units or Voting Points.
INEC deploys 24, 930 ad hoc staff
Speaking further, Yakubu said, “To ensure the successful conduct of the rerun elections, INEC has engaged 24, 930 ad hoc staff drawn from the National Youth Service Corps NYSC and students of Federal tertiary institutions, specifically the University of Port Harcourt, the Federal College of Education (Technical) at Omoku and the Federal University, Otuoke in Bayelsa state”.
He added that the youth corps members would serve as Presiding Officers while others would serve as Assistant Presiding Officers I, II and III.
In addition, INEC said it has engaged a total of 379 Collation Officers and 37 Returning Officers from the same tertiary institutions above based on the recommendations of their Vice Chancellors and Provost who vouched for their integrity.
“The list was forwarded to us here at the headquarters where we conducted due diligence check on all the nominees before they were cleared for Election Duty”, Yakubu said, assuring that the commission would never recruit election duty personnel in a partisan manner.
Electoral Officers drawn from 15 states
He also added that none of the Electoral Officers currently posted as heads of INEC local government offices will participate in the polls. Yakubu said those EO’s would be confined to the INEC headquarters in Port Harcourt where there will be no election day activity. Consequently, the commission has drawn EO’s from 15 states of the federation and the INEC headquarters who shall return to their duty posts at the conclusion of election. While the Head of Operations and Administrative Secretary have been redeployed from other states, training of poll officials had since commenced and would end today (Thursday).
Smartcard Readers, charged and configured
Meanwhile, INEC said Smart Card Readers would be used for the confirmation of Permanent Voter Cards PVCs as well as authentication of voters, adding that the card readers have been configured and charged.
Police, NSCDC deploy men, logistics
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Police Force said in addition to the over 21, 000 officers and men of the Rivers state Command, 6, 000 policemen have been deployed to complement those on the ground.
Also, in addition to the 5, 000 officers and men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps NSCDC deployed by the Rivers command of the corps, 2, 000 others have been deployed in the state by the national headquarters.
IGP Arase on his part said the police is deploying one helicopter in each of the three senatorial districts.
While he said the intelligence unit of the force has conducted a threat analysis of the state, Arase said flahspoints and individuals who might pose security threat have been identified and watch-listed.
He said the police has contacted the Nigerian Navy to assist it in “locking down” the waterways in the state, adding that restriction of movement would start on Friday night.