By Abayomi Adeshida
The National Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has promised that the fire incidence at the Ondo Office of the Commission would not have any effect on the Ondo State Governorship Electoral time table, even as he assured of a thorough investigation into the unexpected fire outbreak.
Yakubu who spoke in Abuja on Friday at a meeting organised by the National Peace Committee said that the damages caused by the fire in the office of the INEC in Ondo State were not substantial enough to cause the Commission to consider a postponement of the date of the polls.
In his words, ” yes, we received the sad news last night of a fire incident involving the container housing the smart card readers for the Ondo elections. I am glad to say that we have recovered from that, Election in Ondo is going to go ahead.
“We have full capacity in the neighbouring States to get additional smart card readers and I have had a discussion with the REC in Oyo where we have over 7,000 smart card readers. So, getting 5,000 to support Ondo is not an issue at all.
“This is a not a general election which is holding nationwide; its an off-season election, so, we have recovered in Ondo while investigation continues on the cause of fire in our office in Ondo.
“The Ondo election will not be affected by what happened yesterday to our smart card readers, The fire incident only affected the container housing the card readers and it is the same container that saved the card readers since 2015. It was used in 2015 used in 2016 for the governorship elections and used in 2019, so, its not that we have moved the card readers to an unsafe place,” the INEC Chairman told journalists after a meeting called to review the preparedness of the Commission to guarantee the conduct of a peaceful election in Edo and Ondo States.
He, however, assured Nigerians that the Commission would henceforth pay more attention to providing adequate security to all the property of the electoral body to prevent a re-occurrence nationwide
He assured “therefore that, “learning from the experience of what has happened in Ondo, we are also taking measures to ensure that there is no repeat occurrence of this kind of incidence in Edo State. So, Ondo election will go ahead, thank you very much.
“Let me give you a little bit of statistics, We require 4, 100 smart card readers for the Ondo State elections, including spare card readers in case of malfunctions on election day. We have those numbers in Ondo.
“However, we also required one thousand smart card readers for training so that the ad-hoc staff are properly trained using smart card readers. So. we got additional one thousand smart card readers from our office in Osun State.
“So. we had five thousand one hundred smart card readers that were good to go for Ondo. But unfortunately from the report, I am getting. we have lost all five thousand one hundred smart card readers in that container in Ondo.” the Chairman lamented.
The National Peace Committee which is Co-Chaired by the Former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar and the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah has been committed to the pursuance of peaceful electoral processes in Nigeria since the 2015 General Elections.
Other prominent members of the Committee are the Immediate Past Catholic Bishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan; Immediate past Primate of All Nigeria Anglican Communion and the Bishop of Abuja, The Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh; the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saád Abubakar III and the Publisher Vanguard Newspapers, Mr. Sam Amuka-Pemu as well as other senior citizens of the country.
According to the timetable for the Ondo State Governorship Elections as released by the National Electoral Commission, INEC, eligible voters across the State would be opportune to elect their Governor on October 10th, 2020.
Section 178 (1) & 2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Section 25(8) of the Electoral Act, 2000 (as amended) empower the Commission to appoint a date for the Governorship election not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of that office.