With the words of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu, the electoral body is set for the February 16 and March two polls.
“INEC is good to go as far as the 2019 general elections are concerned”, Prof Yakubu told a delegation of the European Union (EU), United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (U.S.) at the Abuja Headquarters of the commission yesterday.
He reassured the international community and Nigerians that the general elections will be credible, free, fair and transparent.
The INEC boss also stressed that the elections will be error-free, as the commission will jealously guide the processes. Besides, he assured Nigerians that the outcome of the polls will meet the expectations of all because all votes will count.
He said: “We are good to go for the 2019 general elections. We are aware that the election is going to be an intense media event but only that international community will also intensely watch the processes as they have always done and I want to assure you that we will not fail the international community and will not fail the nation.
“We are aware that the long term EU observation mission is on ground, and also the ECOWAS observation mission, so the international community is already in Nigeria for the elections.
“The 2019 elections will be credible, we will jealously guide the processes; we will ensure that the processes lead to the outcome that all Nigerians expect. Nothing but free, fair, credible elections will be good enough for the commission.”
Prof Yakubu reiterated that “votes will count in 2029 general elections. We are ready for free, fair and transparent process such that will confirm the position of Nigeria in international community as a nation that conducts credible elections. 2015 was not a fluke, it was a product of deliberate planning and 2019 is going to be the same.”
Briefing his guest on the preparation made so far by the commission ahead of the elections, he said: “We are at the moment outing finishing touches to our preparation for the elections. The first election will hold on 16th February with the national presidential and National Assembly and the second election will hold on the 2nd of March, which are the state elections (the governorship, State Assembly elections, and the election into area councils in the Federal Capital Territory.
“All the heavy items for the elections are being procured in addition to ballot boxes, voting cubicles, replacement smart card readers. The permanent voter cards have also been delivered to the states for collection by citizens.”
According to him, the commission has been recruiting and will soon commence training for the ad hoc staff for the elections.
Speaking earlier, David Young, Charge D’Affairs of the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, spoke on the expected neutrality of the security agencies during the elections.
He stressed need for INEC to stick to their role of protecting the electorates and ballot materials and avoid any form of interference with the voting process.
Young said: “I would want express the concern that we have and that is the neutrality of the security services. For us it is very important in the ongoing season that the security services are very smart, provide security for the elections and security in the safety of the process.
“It should be done in such a way that it does not interfere with people getting to the polls, poll watchers, civil society organization and other to have access to ensure the voting goes freely both in February 16th and March 2nd.
“This is something we have been deliberating strongly about. The neutrality of the security services is one of the very important issues for credible elections.”
Young also spoke on the need for a better synergy among the three arms of government, saying that the executive, legislature and judiciary are crucial to democracy.
He said: “I also want to say that we appreciate very much the important the role judiciary plays in Nigeria.”