expresses readiness despite attacks
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA-Barely 29 days to the scheduled governorship election in Anambra state, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Friday, said it has commenced the process of recruiting 26, 000 ad-hoc staff it will deploy to 5, 720 polling units in the state.
INEC Resident Commissioner in Anambra State, Mr. Nkwachukwu Orji, who made the disclosure during a dialogue session he held with the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room in Abuja, said the ad-hoc staff would be selected from various tertiary institutions in the state.
He said the Commission was not satisfied with the number of ad-hoc staff it got during an online recruitment process it conducted between August 8 and September 9.
“The number was not satisfactory, so we re-opened the portal. He have also embarked on an outreach to some of the federal tertiary institutions to attract more students and raise their interest in what we do.
“In total, we are expecting about 26, 000 ad-hoc staff in this election. It is quite a lot to mobilize, but we are working to make sure that we get them”, Nkwachukwu added.
He said the Commission is currently negotiating with the Anambra state government to not only designate some schools as training centers for the ad-hoc staff, but to also shut down the selected schools within the period.
“If they fail to do that, it is going to be difficult for us. We are still negotiating with them, though the government is not buying the idea of shutting down schools for three days”.
The Commissioner bemoaned the fact that INEC does not have more than 400 staff strength in all the 21 Local Government Areas that made up Anambra State.
On preparation for the election, Nkwachukwu, expressed the readiness of the Commission, saying it has identified all its infrastructural and logistical needs and how to meet them.
He however decried that INEC suffered huge loss owing to series of attacks it suffered in the recent past.
“Our office was basically destroyed in May. We lost three officers at Idemili, Nnewi and Ekwusigo.
“We have been exposed to all forms of attacks from criminals. It is really a difficult situation that we are facing. We are planning for an election and we are still rebuilding.
“Prior to the May 23 arson attack, we had about 60 percent of all non-sensitive materials we needed for the election. We lost all of that but we remobilized and used our Owerri zonal store to keep what we will need.
“Owerri is closer to many LGAs in Anambra than even Awka. We made that strategic decision, but it was opposed by political interest. Our plan was that by the first week of November, we would have finished distributing all the non-sensitive materials.
“It was indeed a huge setback for us. As he plan for the election, we are taking many things into consideration, especially security of our staff”.
He said the electoral body had on Thursday, published the register of voters, noting that a total of 2, 525, 471 electorates registered for the impending election.
“On whether we are prepared for this election, there is nothing in our timeline that indicates that we are running behind schedule. If the election could come next week, we will be able to deliver. We are prepared and we have all the materials we need.
“We are hoping that the environment will be conducive for us to be able to deliver this election.
“I have confidence in the election security. We have been meeting frequently at the level of inter-agency consultative committee on election security which is a body I have the privilege of chairing.
“We have assurances from security agencies that the situation is not out of control.
“I am confident that the election will happen and I believe that we have made all the arrangements that are required to be made”, the Anambra REC added.