Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) –By Albert OGRAKA:
Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), is poised to go ahead with the Edo governorship election scheduled to hold on Saturday, September 10, 2016 despite calls and agitations by major stakeholders for its suspension.
The electoral body had on Thursday dispelled rumours of postponement of the governorship election in Edo state, which has hitherto heated the nation’s political landscape due to the divergent positions held by the contending political parties and their candidates, All Progressives Congress (APC), Godwin Obaseki and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Osagie Ize-Iyamu respectively.
Recall that the Department of State Services and the Nigerian Police Force had called for the postponement of the governorship election in Edo State, citing security issues.
Mr Solomon Soyebi, INEC National Commissioner in-charge of Voter Education and Publicity, said during a press conference held at INEC’s office in Benin posited that “the governorship election will go ahead on Saturday, Sept. 10 as scheduled.’’
Soyebi, who said INEC as the body statutorily set up to conduct elections in the country, would not take orders from any institution with regard to the performance of its constitutional duties.
“We have therefore weighed all the consequences of a postponement in the election and have resolved to go ahead with the conduct of the election on Saturday as scheduled,’’ he said.
In a similar development, the Independent National Electoral Commission has said that it will not postpone Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination scheduled to hold on the same day.
The National Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this during an earlier stakeholders’ meeting held in Benin, the state capital, on Wednesday.
A total of 1,742 candidates are expected to sit Mathematics 1 and 2 papers on September 10, the same date of the governorship poll.
This development led to a protest by some of the affected candidates and parents on Monday.
There had also been calls for the postponement of the poll in order to allow the candidates exercise their right to vote.
But the national chairman, who spoke through the Edo State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Sam Olumekun, said that the electoral umpire had given adequate notification of the election date, prior to the date fixed for the examination by WAEC.
He explained, “On the issue of the WAEC examination, as my chairman would say, ‘INEC is the weeping boy’. Even when you see people that are doing things that are wrong, you would revert to INEC.
“It is important to draw your attention to the fact that INEC gave notice of this election on March 2, 2016. There was no registration for the WAEC examination by candidates as of that time. I stand to be corrected.”
The INEC boss noted that the commission had held a discussion with the examination body and security agencies on the issue, where it was agreed that the examination should be moved to Ondo and Delta states, as holding it simultaneously with the poll may create security challenges.
Yakubu said, “The issue is, basically, security. So, the security agencies advised WAEC accordingly that giving room for people to move around may pose some challenges because criminals could cash in on the situation.
“Permit me to remind you also that there are about 1.9 million registered voters in Edo State, whose interest also should be taken care of. At the end of that meeting, we agreed that the exam be shifted outside Edo State to places that are nearby.
“Indeed, WAEC had even concluded arrangements to do this. It suggested Ore, Agbor and, I think, one other place. Yes, there could be some inconvenience for the candidates to travel outside Edo State. But, of course, it is not too much pain to bear, if you have the interest of your state at heart.
“I do not think we need to suspend an election because WAEC is going to conduct the General Certificate Examinations. It is not SSCE but GCE for those who did not do well in the past exams,” the INEC chairman added.”
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Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) –
E.I.C: Albert Eruorhe Ograka