The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has ruled out any attempt to postpone the Governorship in Edo and Ondo States, which had been scheduled for September 19, and October 10 respectively.
It said that the Ondo State would go ahead as planned despite the fire incident that burned its Card Readers meant for the election..
National Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this during an interactive session with stakeholders and Civil Society Organisations, convened by the National Peace Committee on Friday in Abuja.
Yakubu explained that the 5,100 Card Readers programmed for use for the election were razed in the inferno that broke out on Thursday night, adding that investigation was on to unravel the cause of the fire.
He said: “We received the sad news last night of fire incident involving the container housing the Smart Card Readers”.
“Let me give you a little bit of statistics; we require 4,100 Smart Card Readers for the Ondo election and additional 100 for training, so that the adhoc Staff are properly trained using the Smart Card Reader. So we got 1,000 Card Readers from our office in Osun State.
“So, we had 5,100 Smart Card Readers and we were good to go for the Ondo election but, unfortunately, from the reports I’m getting, we lost the 5,100 Smart Card Readers in that container”.
He stressed that the commission had recovered from the incident, adding that he was glad to say the Ondo election would go ahead as planned.
“We have huge capacity in the neighbouring state to get additional Smart Card Readers and I had a discussion with the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Oyo State and we have 700 Smart Card Readers there. So, getting 5,000 Smart Card Readers to support Ondo won’t be an issue at all. This is not a general election that is holding nationwide, it is an off season election,” Yakubu explained.
He further stated that the fire only affected the container housing the Smart Card Readers, noting that it was the same container that was used in 2015, 2016 and 2019. “So, it is not that we moved the Smart Card Readers to an unsafe place”.
The INEC boss also stated that the commission was ready for the Edo State poll and that it would not be postponed.
According to him, “In September 2016, the Edo governorship election, for reasons known to Nigerians, was postponed for two weeks but it had nothing to do with the preparation of the Commission”.
“We know advice came for the postponement of the election. Is it going to happen again? Not as far as INEC preparations are concerned. We are ready and good to go. INEC is not contemplating postponement of the election.
“Personally, I will be in Edo State tomorrow and will remain in Edo till Wednesday and I’m only leaving Edo on Wednesday to watch what happens on the Election Day from the situation room here in Abuja.
“There are numbers of activities, we will be supervising the preparation of the commission, we will be holding stakeholders’ meeting on Tuesday and on Wednesday is the signing of the peace accord under the auspices of the National Peace Committee.
“So, as far as INEC is concerned, we are ready and not even contemplating the postponement of the Edo election.
He, however, said they learned some lessons from the burnt Card Readers in Ondo, stating, “We are taking measures to ensure that there is no repeat of this kind of incident in Edo State”.