The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said arrangements are on top gear to ensure that disenfranchise persons such as journalists, security personnel, election monitors, members of Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) and prisoners vote ahead of elections.
This is even as the commission said it will definitely engage about 1 million ad-hoc staff in the conduct of election in 2019.
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja when he appeared before the Senate committee on INEC.
He insisted that the commission is determined to ensure advanced voting as done in developed countries, and further emphased that it will actualise a free and fair conduct of elections in the forthcoming poll in Anambra state.
According to Yakubu, INEC has discovered that security personnel, the media and members of election monitoring groups do not usually exercise their franchise because they are busy involved in duty calls and are always unable to be at their polling units to vote. The advanced voting system, he said will curb the situation.
On engaging personnel in the conduct of polls, the chairman said the commission is seriously under staffed with an employ of only 16,000 which, is grossly inadequate to effectively disseminate duties during elections.
Yakubu stated that in 2015, the commission had engaged 750, 000 ad-hoc personnel but that there is need to increase the number in order to achieve maximum performance in the next general election.
Making clarifications on the challenges with the smart card reader, Yakubu said “the issues are not technological but with training of the personnel who handle the machines.”
Although he further stated that the challenges are over magnified by persons who he said attempt to give the commission a bad name and assured that steps have already been taken not just to improve the window of the card reader machine but make accredition faster.
On when the continuous voter registration will end, the INEC boss said the law stipulates that such exercise should end exactly sixty days to the election. He said the purpose of the registration is to make sure that all persons have the opportunity participate in the voting.
Meanwhile, the Chairman Senate committee on INEC, Senator Suleiman Nazzif (Bauchi North) has said the 7 Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) that are yet to be confirmed by the Senate would soon be presented for approval.
Nazzif urged the commission to furnish the Senate with all details of ongoing voter registration and briefs on the 2017 budget performance in order to opportune the lawmakers take legislative actions towards tackling the challenges.