Over 72 Million Nigeriansfile out today to choose the next president and national assembly members
All are set for thepresidential and national assembly elections today. Mahmood Yakubu, chairman ofthe Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, felt like a pregnant womanat her last antenatal care, at his last press conference Friday. He assuredNigerians and the international community that all logistics were in place forthe election, and that voting will start by 8.00 on Saturday.
A total of 73 candidates are running for the presidential slot. There are 91 registered parties but only 73 are presenting presidential candidates. A total of 109 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives will be elected. The INEC chairman enthused confidence that the commission has got it right this time, as materials had been delivered to all the 774 local government areas in the country. What that means is that barring serious challenges materials will get to the polling units on time for the exercise to commence early enough.
Accreditation andvoting will take place simultaneously. Yakubu confirmed that people can bringphones to the polling stations but no phones in the voting cubicles to avoidvote buying.
The National Situation Roomopened at 6.00pm Friday while the collation centre for presidential electionwould open Sunday at 6.00pm.
On fears about thepossible malfunctioning or cloning of the card readers, Yakubu assures votersthat the card reader will authenticate they are the real owner of the card. Inaddition, the Commission went a step forward by using biometrics to activatevoters. Thumb prints will be collected from those the card reader could notread their thumbprints. This will be used for legal reasons and the Commissionwill call them after election to find out why the card reader could not readtheir finger prints. A further security safeguard is that ballot papers willhave manual signatures at the back as another level of authentication.
On underage voting which was rampant in the North in 2015, Yakubu said it is illegal and reaffirmed that the statutory age for voting was 18 years. He said people should report any incident of underage voting to the police for arrest and prosecution.
On Zamfara State, whichthe Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja ordered INEC to include APC candidateslate Friday, the Chairman confirmed that Commission had complied with thejudgment and included APC candidates in the ballot papers for the state.
On security, he quietlydisagreed with President Buhari’s kill ballot box snatchers order by readingout the civil procedure that would be taken. The Police would arrest suspects,carry out thorough investigation after the election and prosecute the suspectsif found liable.
The Inspector Generalof Police reaffirmed that and assured the electorate, INEC staff, observers andjournalists of their safety. He explained that there would be three unarmedpolicemen at each polling booth. There will be the tactical unit of armedsecurity personnel, which will deal with trouble makers according to the law.
He urged Nigerians to “go out, vote peacefully and return to your house and wait for the results.”