…calls for more engagement with stakeholders
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has stated its level of preparedness ahead of the off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States expected to take place on Saturday, November 11, 2023.
In a press statement issued on Friday and made available via its official X account, formerly called Twitter, INEC said that its preparedness for the incoming election is emphasised by its delivery of non-sensitive materials to these states and the successful conduct of a mock accreditation exercise involving actual voters in designated polling units in these states.
The electoral commission said that the “elections will involve 5,409,438 registered voters that will vote in 10,510 polling units” scattered across 649 electoral wards within 56 Local Government Areas.
It also added that several preparatory activities, including training, are underway.
In all, INEC stressed that the mock accreditation carried out some weeks ago was to achieve its main objectives, which are “First, to test the efficacy of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for especially biometric authentication of voters. Secondly, to upload the result to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV). Both tests were successful.”
Unlike what transpired earlier in the year during the 2023 general elections, the commission promised an improved performance of the BVAS in voter accreditation and result upload in the forthcoming elections.
INEC promised to ensure that the off-cycle governorship elections go well, and as a result, it has put a plan in place to deploy a total of 46,084 regular and ad hoc staff for the election.
For election observers and media organisation involvement in the election, INEC said, “We have so far accredited 126 national and international organisations collectively deploying 11,000 observers for the election. Although the portal for media accreditation closes on Tuesday 24th October 2023, we have received applications from 80 media organisations seeking to deploy 1,203 personnel made up of journalists and technical/support staff to report on the elections.
“The 18 political parties participating in the elections are deploying 137,934 agents made up of 130,093 polling and 7,841 collation agents. We are also finalising arrangements for vehicles and boats for land and maritime movement of personnel and materials.,”
INEC said that acknowledges that the massive deployment for the upcoming elections needs a secure environment, but ensuring security is not solely their responsibility. They are concerned about the ongoing insecurity and election-related violence in the three states.
The electoral body added that it has received reassurances of adequate security deployment from security agencies and will continue to engage with them further in the coming days. Additionally, they plan to hold meetings with stakeholders at both the national and state levels to address these concerns and ensure the elections proceed as safely as possible.