The future of Nigeria is presently not certain as power seekers do not appear to be leaving anything to chance as the deciding presidential election approaches. There have been worrisome allegations and counter-allegations by the major political parties of schemes to subvert the election outcome.
Already, witches in the country are warning that Nigeria will become a theatre of bloodletting if the authorities rigged the poll in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
This was coming as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in a seeming dramatic move, announced that results of the general elections will be collated and transmitted manually,
According to the electoral agency, this is the only system that the law allows. INEC has accordingly denied the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) the power to recruit collation officers, claiming that it has enough courage to conduct free and fair elections.
The electoral body is however, urging the citizenry to prevail on political parties to comply with the guidelines for the exercise.
The agency’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Mr. Festus Okoye, who disclosed this development in Abuja, the country’s capital, said INEC was ready for the conduct of the polls in 1, 558 constituencies and 774 Local Government Areas.
Okoye who spent much time to clarify issues surrounding collation of results said the commission has concluded the identification and recruitment of over 814, 453 ad hoc staff.
According to him, ‘’for this general election, we are collating results manually and transmitting manually in accordance with the existing laws. Even in some advanced countries, some of them collate and transmit election results manually because in this age of technology, anything can happen. ‘’
‘’INEC has been consistent in following the processes and procedures in collating and transmitting results. If tomorrow the National Assembly changes the laws, we will adopt e-collation and transmission of results. INEC will not allow Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) to recruit collation officers.
‘’The practice of recruiting collation officers centrally by INEC headquarters has been in practice since 2011. In all elections since 2011, including the 195 off-season elections since 2015, the recruitment of collation officers is centrally done by INEC headquarters. So, since 2011, no REC has been involved in the recruitment of Collation Officers. We will continue to recruit Collation Officers from INEC headquarters, we won’t allow RECs to do that.’’
The commission met with the Committee of Vice Chancellors and agreed on the modalities for recruiting and forwarding the names of Collation Officers to INEC headquarters. ‘’Collation Officers are not allowed to make phone calls or receive calls during collation.’’
While assuring that the commission will be fair to all parties and candidates, he added, ‘’INEC has pledged to be neutral and will not pander to the whims and caprices of anybody or party. We have the courage and the stamina to provide an enabling environment to guarantee free and fair elections. We have the capacity to conduct elections that all Nigerians will be proud of.
‘’As you are aware, INEC will conduct Presidential and National Assembly elections on February 16, and on March 2, the commission will conduct Governorship and State Assembly elections.
‘’It is a matter of common knowledge that the 2019 general elections will involve 91 registered political parties and a total registered voting population of 84,004,084. The election will take place in 1,558 Constituencies and 774 Local Government Areas. The Collation of Results will take place in 8,809 Registration Areas/ Wards and in 119, 973 Polling Units and 57,023 Voting Points nationwide.
‘’The Presidential Election will be contested by a total of 73 candidates while the governorship election will be contested by a total of 1,068 candidates in 29 states of the Federation. The 109 Senate seats will be contested by 1, 904 candidates while the 360 seats in the House of Representatives will be contested by a total of 4, 680 candidates. The 991 State Constituency elections will be contested by a total of 14, 583 candidates. The 68 Area Council seats in the Federal Capital Territory will be contested by 806 candidates.’’
Meanwhile, the Association of White Witches in Nigeria (AWWN) has also warned President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC who is battling to retain power that no amount of intimidation and rigging by his administration will deny the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, the victory.
Spokesman for the witches, Okhue Iboi, is claiming that the victory of the former Vice President was sealed in their two conclaves at the Obudu Mountain in Obudu Local Government Area of Cross River State and the Zuma Rock in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja this past January.
Iboi, said given the public outcry of the Nigerian people about the incessant bloodletting in the country by the Boko Haram and the herdsmen under the watch of President Buhari administration, and the avoidable hunger and extreme poverty that Nigerians have been subjected to, ‘’the grace of God has since departed from Buhari’’.