By Vincent Ujumadu
THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, explained yesterday in Awka that the commission decided to store the non sensitive materials for the November 6 Anambra governorship election in Owerri, Imo State because of the fire incident that occurred at its Awka state office in May this year.
The state Resident Electoral Commission, REC, for Anambra State, Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji, who spoke with reporters during the EMSC AMBER Zone Implementers workshop in the Anambra State capital said there is no need for anybody to be worried about using Owerri for storing the materials for the Anambra election, adding that the materials stored there are not sensitive.
The meeting was attended from the INEC headquarters in Abuja, as well as officials at the state office, electoral officers at the local government level, assistant electoral officers in charge of operations and representatives of INEC foreign partners.
The REC said: “You know that Anambra State INEC office was attacked on May 23rd, 2021 and that led to the destruction of our store. Following that incident, we had to fall back on INEC South East the zonal office in Owerri and that is where we have been trying to mobilize for the election.
“Before the attack, we had mobilized 60% of the non sensitive materials and these materials are face masks, hand sanitizers, twine, biro, papers, vests and those kind of things. I don’t know how keeping those materials in Owerri will compromise our election.
“The sensitive materials for the election will go to the Central Bank of Nigeria. But we are not talking about sensitive materials here. So there is no need for the alarm being raised. I am shocked by the protests concerning this issue.
“The commission had already issued a statement acknowledging the concerns of stakeholders and we are sensitive to their concerns. We will, however, make everything possible to bring our materials to Awka, especially as the damaged structures are already being restored.
“If things go according to plan, the store will be ready by the end of this month, although one cannot be sure about what happens with construction and contractors. So, this Owerri is the last option for us, but we hope that we will assemble our materials and distribute than from Awka before the election”.
Orji said preparations for the governorship poll are on course, in spite of the challenges the Commission was facing, such as the attack on the INEC state office on May 23rd and the sit-at-home which had eaten into the preparation time.
He added: “Despite the challenges, we are doing our best. Adhoc staff are already being recruited online and we are interacting with the stakeholders. We are happy with where we are now and we are confident that come November 6, we will have a successful election in Anambra State
“Election process is something that doesn’t have room for mistakes. We make sure that in the process of preparing for the election all that needed to be on ground, have to be on ground.
“We have therefore developed a system for monitoring closely to make sure that all the activities, programmes and plans that have been identified are captured”.
He said that 25,000 election officials would be used in the 5720 polling units in the state, adding that at least four staff would be deployed in every polling unit.
He stated that the meeting would review the Amber zone, which is three months before the election and the red zone, which is 11 days before the Election Day and two days after the election, which, according to him, is the most critical period in any election.