From Habiba Ibrahim-Sam
In anticipation to a successful 2023 general elections, the Nigerian election umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced the creation of 4,519 polling units in Edo State.
Making this declaration recently during the Edo State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), organized, “Media and Stakeholders Summit,” in collaboration with Media Plus Communication, which ran with the theme, “Roadmap to credible, transparent and peaceful election in Edo State,” the INEC director of voter education and publicity, Mr TimidiWariowei said some persons have been disenfranchised from the voting process due to irregularities in their registration process.
Addressing stakeholders drawn from various political parties, security personnel, enlightenment campaign collaborators, interested members of the public and journalists, Wariowei,stated that as of July 2022, in addition to the 2,627 polling units previously in existence in Edo State, INEC created an additional 1,892 polling units, bringing the grand total to 4,519 polling units.
However, he stated that of the 52,013 people that took part in the INEC automated bimodal authentication process, (continuous voter registration), only 32,465 scaled through due to incidents of double registration while 19,548 were found to be invalid.
Explaining factors used for the invalidation process, the INEC personnel revealed, “Some people who already had personal voting cards (PVCs) came to register; some, out of ignorance, due to lost PVC went to re- register instead of coming to us with a police extract or affidavit to officially inform on the loss to facilitate the printout of a new PVC while those who moved to new places only needed to transfer their voting point instead of registering a new one. This invalidated their right to vote.”
In place of card readers, he informed that beavers would be used for the 2023 election which display the original pictures of voters as captured in the INEC portal to fast track the voter accreditation process.
He told political office seekers not to campaign in church or banks and to ensure they get necessary clearance or permits if using school facilities to avoid violence. Importantly, he cautioned against the use of hate speech to run down opponents during political programmes and manifestos.
For ease of transparency, he counseled journalists to only call out raw data as displayed in the election spreadsheet from each polling unit instead of declaring particular candidates of political parties as winners in those polling units since overall winners with basic statistical differentiations which showcase how they won would be announced through clicking/logging onto the INEC election viewing portal, as made operational during the Edo State 2020 governorship election.
Edeko Uwa Ashetu, Edo State coordinator, “Vote not Fight; Election no be War,” campaign group in an exclusive interview with this reporter, stated, while responding to the raised question about the efficiency of her campaign group based on the existing background of electoral violence and hate speech in society and what they, as a group, should focus on differently, clarified thus, “When it comes to argument, fighting, these are what people do but we are trying our best to communicate to curb or reduce it to the barest minimum. We are reaching out to nooks and crannies. We have a lot of stakeholders; a lot of persons that would collaborate with us.
“We have a lot of market women; mothers. When we communicate with mothers they can talk to their children. We realize that violence comes with the youths; that is why we are clamouring on the youths.
“We are working with the Edo State commissioner for youths and gender affairs. He has given us a lot of support too in trying to see what can be done. During the last election in Edo State, to an extent, I can say it was peaceful. Am sure it would get better.”
Convener and chairman, Edo State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Festus Alenkhe, informed that the summit became expedient to deepen knowledge and hone the reportorial skills and rules of conduct by journalists during the 2023 general elections.