Following stiff opposition from political parties to the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ban political campaigns before next Saturday’s rescheduled poll, the commission yesterday reversed itself and allowed electioneering.
The Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had said at a stakeholders’ meeting last Saturday in Abuja, that collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and political campaign remained closed.
However, the commission in a statement yesterday, by its National Commissioner and Chairman Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, said that media organisations are at liberty to accept, publish, broadcast and circulate campaign materials up till midnight of Thursday, February 21, 2019.
He stated: “In the meantime, after consultations with political parties, the commission has approved that campaigns by parties and candidates can resume forthwith to end by midnight of Thursday, February 21, 2019.
“Political parties and their candidates are enjoined to abide by the extant laws governing campaigns.”
The electoral body also assured Nigerians that next Saturday’s poll and the March 9 governorship and State House of Assembly elections, remain sacrosanct.
To this end, the commission has commenced the auditing of electoral materials to identify possible shortfall, gaps and remedial steps and action would be taken as soon as any shortfall is identified.
Okoye told reporters yesterday that the commission would start the deployment of sensitive materials early enough without compromising their security and confidentiality.
He revealed that the chairman of the commission has outlined six concrete steps to actualise the elections.
Okoye stated: “These steps are cogent and verifiable and are already operational. The commission is engaged in reverse logistics since some of the sensitive materials have been deployed from the central bank of the various states to the local government offices of the commission.
“The commission is auditing the materials to identify possible shortfall and gaps and remedial steps and action will be taken as soon as any shortfall is identified.
“The commission has recalled all the Smart Card Readers in all the States of the federation for reconfiguration. The commission is deploying additional Registration Area Technical Support Staff to Lagos State with over 14,000 Smart Card Readers and Kano State with over 11,000 Smart Card Readers.
“The commission had configured the Smart Card Readers to become operational on Saturday the 16th day of February 2019 at 8a.m. and to shut down at a particular time. Since the commission rescheduled the election, the Smart Card Readers must be reconfigured to capture the new date and the new time.
“The commission will start the deployment of sensitive materials early enough without compromising their security and confidentiality. We will also make sure that all the ad-hoc staff engaged for the election are paid their dues and remobilised to the various Registration Area Centres,” he added.
Okoye stated categorically that the electoral body is confident that all the materials are in place and its processes are geared towards the conduct of all the strands of elections.