Despite assurances by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that it is capable of transmitting election results electronically, All Progressives Congress (APC) federal lawmakers do not appear to be comfortable with that.
They are allegedly plotting to use their majority in the National Assembly to stop the electoral agency from raising the credibility of elections in the country with electronic transmission.
Apparently unshaken, while pointing out that the heightened insecurity in Anambra State may be due to the November 6 governorship election in the state, and vowing to go ahead with the polls, INEC had pre-empted the outcome of the National Assembly Conference Committee by releasing a 25-page Position Paper on the controversial matter.
The electoral umpire reiterated its capacity, readiness and ability to deliver elections with integrity using appropriate and available technology, including the one for the electronic transmission of election results.
The commission detailed its successful pilot programmes and engagements from 2018 with the Nigerian Communications Commission and Mobile Network Operators through a committee, which reached the conclusion that it was possible for INEC to transmit poll results electronically from any part of Nigeria.
The INEC position paper dispelled misconceptions on the issue and made it abundantly clear that all the commission requires was the enabling and legal framework to deploy available technology for the electronic transmission of election results.
The commission also described as a breach of constitution, any suggestion that it should obtain attestation from the NCC or approval of the National Assembly before the exercise of its statutory mandate, including the electronic transmission of poll results.
By this clarification, the ball is now squarely in the court of the legislature to meet the yearnings of the majority of Nigerians for the delivery of free, fair, transparent and credible elections in the country, using appropriate, available and tested technological tools!
In the meantime, INEC says available intelligence revealed that the intention of those attacking its offices and other public institutions in the State is to ensure that the governorship election does not hold.
Its Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, stated this at the emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), noting that the importance of election security in a governorship election has never been this urgent.
Yakubu however warned that should INEC again lose vital materials and facilities, the ongoing preparations for the election will be adversely affected, pointing out “from the reports we have received, the stated goal of many of the attackers is that the Governorship election scheduled for 6th November 2021 must not hold.
“This is worrisome for the Commission. We are deeply concerned that specific electoral facilities and materials could once more become targets of attack. Recall that in May this year, our State Office at Awka was attacked and all the non-sensitive materials assembled for the election at the time were destroyed.
‘’In addition, our store, collation centre and the main office building were either totally or substantially damaged. The Commission also lost several vehicles to be used for the election. Happily, we have almost fully recovered from that attack. The destroyed buildings have either been completely repaired or are nearing completion and we have fully replaced the materials destroyed.
“This rapid recovery has only been possible because this is an off-season election. We have sourced some of these materials such as the 326 electric generators and vehicles destroyed in the attack from neighbouring States.
“However, should we again lose vital materials and facilities, the ongoing preparations will be adversely affected”.
Continuing, he said, “We wish to assure the people of Anambra State that the Commission is determined to proceed with the election as scheduled. To underscore this determination, the Commission is implementing two more activities on the timetable for the election in the next few days.
“The register of voters will be presented to political parties in Awka on Thursday 7th October 2021. On the same day, the Commission will publish the final list of candidates for the election.
“We are confident that at the end of this meeting, we will firm up on specific measures necessary to further guarantee the safety of all persons involved in the election from the voters, election officials, observers, media organisations and the security of election materials”.
The meeting was attended by the representatives of the National Security Adviser, military, police and other security agencies.