Estimated reading time: 34 minute(s)
The Ogun State Resident Electoral Commission (REC), Niyi Ijalaye, speaks with SODIQ MOJIBOLA on the data of registered voters, INEC plans for the PWDs in the coming election and advised citizens to come out enmass for the PVC collection while shunning vote purchase.
Can we meet you?
My Name is Niyi Ijalaye, I am the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Ogun State
What is the figure of people who are yet to collect there PVC in Ogun State?
You will recall up unto we commenced the CVR in 2021, we had previous registrations and the figure we had as at the last count before the commencement of the CVR, was 661,643 and with the commencement of the CVR, which commenced in June Last Year, we had 345,000 and just a few above that. But I must mention that, that figure is not sacrosanct as at today.
Why? You would recall that the National Chairman of INEC, Professor Mamood told the nation that we are going to look at the system and for those who had double registrations, such registrations were to be cancelled. You equally have been briefed nationally by the National Chairman that a total number of 2.7 Million had been cancelled from the total figure. What this means is that the 345,000 we had would still come down as it relates to Ogun State. I am sure in another week or so, I would be able to give a total figure as to the position of the figures in Ogun State. That has to do with the issue of fresh registration.
Now, for the issue of collection of PVCs. We want to also use your medium to communicate, as we have also communicated with some electronic and print media, to continue to be of assistance to let people know that they should come and collect their PVC. Those who registered between June last year (2021) and January 2022, their PVCs are here and we have distributed the PVCs to all our outlets in the local government areas.
Those who registered between January this year (2022) up until the closure of the registration in July this year, the cards will be available for collection on or before 15th November this year (2022). So, we want to appeal through this medium, that our people of the Gtaway State should go out and pick their cards. We shouldn’t wait till the last minute to avoid unnecessary pressure.
We want to put on record, the contribution of some International Agencies that have been of Help to this Commission, in respect of collection of PVCs, YIAGA Africa who partnered with us in this regard. What they did was to provide funds such that we were abke to send bulk SMS to registrants to remind them to go and pick their cards. So we are also using this medium to tell our people to go out and pick their cards.
Is there any plan by the INEC to engage in some mobilization effort to create awareness in the collection?
In a few days, we are going to commence on a mobilization effort. We will be on – television and radio – print meida also, telling them that people must go out to pick their cards. Pending the time that the cards will be out so that we can tell them to go out and do the needful.
We will also be soliciting the support of agencies that are willing to collaborate with us in mobilization of people to pick their cards so that they will be able to vote come 2023.
How ready is your commission her in terms of training of personnel and getting materials ready?
We are more than ready for the election. Everything is on course. As we speak, we have obtained the non-sensitive materials which are here with us, not just here but all over the state. Issue of logistics, we have made the plans and everything is on course. Concerning the sensitive items also, that would be deployed by the Commission in due course also. I can assure you that the personnel have been trained and retrained, the INEC In-house personnel have been trained and retained in preparation of the election. We will be training the ad-hoc staff (youth corpers) also very soon. Not now, but very soon, we will commence the training of the youth corpers to let them know how to go about it.
Also the security operatives in the nation who are collaborators, we will be meeting with them to strategise to make sure that the citizens and the INEC materials are protected. Then I must mention also that we want to appeal to the good people of the state, particularly the politicians, that since the campaigns we commenced, they should let it be issue based campaigns to let the citizens be convinced as to our programmes. We must. Our tenet here in ogun state is that we should be totally violent free during campaigns.
Closely followed to this is the issue of vote purchase. Of course we are all mindful of the fact that it is illegal, going by the constitution of law, the purchase or buying and selling of votes. Even before the law that says it is illegal, in my opinion, I think it is not wise for any Nigerian to be involved in vote purchase, because, as you are aware, our cycle of election is once in four years and so we should be able to hold the politicians for what they had done while in office but when we get involved in vote purchase, we would not be able to hold them accountable and complain if they do not provide good roads and all they are expected to do. So I want you to help us educate the masses that it is totally inexpedient.
We want you to enlighten us on the use of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS)?
The Commission has come up with the issue of BVAS because it wants the election to be transparent as ever. With the coming of BVAS, which was first introduced during registration by the INEC, we will deploy the BVAS for voting at elections. What the commission has done with the introduction of this technological device is majorly to eliminate human interference to the barest minimum. You will recall that at previous elections, we used to have what we called the incident form for people with challenges but it was grossly abused by politicians. That explains why the commission did away with that form.
Now, the BVAS, what it entails is that during election, at the polling unit, the polling officer will tell the officers that this is the register that contains the vote and then all the voters will be accredited first before the election. After the accreditation, then they will be allowed to vote. The essence of the BVAS is that it will accredit them and allow them to vote. The BVAS has two major attributes; it can capture the facial features of the voters and secondly, their biometrics. Such that if we have twins, their biometrics will differ, that’s the advantage of BVAS. Someone who has no limbs probably due to an accident will have the privilege to vote as a result of the BVAS. We recognize that this man does not have limbs but he has a head so we will allow him to vote because of his head which is peculiar to his heart and soul as a Nigerian. As long as one has a head, one can vote.
Can you give us authentic information about the Labour Party and PDP on the conflicting report that INEC has collected a list of particular candidates?
What actually happen is that there is a process, INEC runs an empire and we deal with processes, as pertain with PDP, the party must have concluded their congress, then go to their primaries and advice the commission who their candidates are for the elections, that was done like any other party and as at the time that was done, we were yet to print the names of candidates, upon the time we are to print the names of candidates, there was no issue, so because some members of the party has gone to court and the court now nullify the process of their election, that they should go and conduct a fresh primaries, that is as it pertain to PDP, so for the commission which is INEC, It is always time base and our activities are timed, so as at the time we were to print the names of candidates, the court has said they should go and conduct a fresh primary, as far as PDP is concerned for the governorship election, there is no candidate, so as soon as the court takes their position, we will then have candidates for the PDP. For the issue of the Labour Party, they were to transmit their details to the commission on line, on or before a specific date, and because INEC as a commission is time based, unfortunately for the party, they were not done within time. When this question was asked before, we told the Labour party in the state to escalate their position through their national party to the commission in Abuja. So, it has nothing to do with us here at state level. So as of now, the Labour Party don’t have a candidate.
How many political parties are participating in the coming election in Ogun State?
As it pertains to the list of Governorship parties and as it relates to Ogun State. What we got from the office in Abuja is for 13 parties. Of the 13, the PDPs name is there but it is blank as a result of the court order. In other words, what we have now is 12 parties for the governorship and if it’s the result that matters, that would be 13. As for the Lablur Party, their name is not here at all and I have given you reasons, because they have issues to resolve at the National level with our commission.
The names of the Party we have in the list are: A, AA, AAC, ADC, ADP, APC, APM, APP, NNPP, NRM, PDP, PRP and SDP. These are the 13 parties at the moment.
As for the total number of registered and accredited voters in the state, I cannot give you categorically now because in two weeks time when the 2.7million double registered voters is deducted from the total number, the figure will change, and I wouldn’t want to confuse the people by giving double figures in what’s like interval of a week.
How will the Commission carry along the Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) during the election?
Yes, more than ever, we have made appropriate accommodations for people with disabilities on the election day, for instance like the Albinos that have issues with sight, we have magnified lenses that can assist them, for those who are blind and who can use breams, there will be breams for them to use at the election but for those who are able there will be no breams for them to use, for those who needs support, like the illiterate ones, we will allow their trusted relations to assist such Persons to vote for them on the election day. For those who can see but cannot hear, we have posters that will be pasted at the pulling unit.
So, in all, we have tried as much as possible to accommodate those who have one challenge or the other. Beyond those PWDs, we equally have others who may need some assistance, like pregnant women and the aged.
On that election day, our premium officers will mention before the commencement of voting, we will let the voters know, seek or covet their cooperation at the pulling unit to allow those who have this challenges I have mentioned, the aged, pregnant women and others who may have one challenge or the other to vote, so that we will sort out with such categories of people on time and those who have much strength will be able to endure to the next one or two hours.
Will the INEC be in partnership with people like the EFCC, ICPC etc?
I mention about vote purchase before, so it is part of this issues we are collaborating with some security agencies on the issues of vote purchase and for us as a commission we cannot enforce, we do not have machine to enforce arrest, we still have to go through the Nigerian Police, ICPC or the EFCC, as the case may be, who have the constitutional responsibilities to arrest but it is not just a responsibility for the commission.
Hence, why we often advise that when a citizen sees a felony or any other offence committed, that citizen can be used to report such a person who committed that offence to the enforcement agencies.
So, we all should be vigilant and ensure that the law is unbridged in any form, we are not also unmindful that the commission at the National Assembly was at the senate to present this position as it pertains to allowing the commission more powers in terms of enforceability of these laws. It is still a matter before the National Assembly, decision is yet to be taken on that.
How many voting units does Ogun State have now?
The voting units in Ogun State should be 5,042 in the 20 Local Government Areas.
You said that people should avoid violent campaign, what about verbal abuse, will the INEC sanction running political abuse?
We want to level Plainfield for all contestant and we are saying, whichever form it may take, either verbal attack or physical violence attack, we forbid all, we implore everybody to be civil as pertains the election that is forth coming.
It is our interest as citizens and then we should conduct ourselves in such a way that whichever politician that we are convinced on, should be the one to vote for and not when we are intimidated or wounded or abused.
To the INEC workers too, what advice are you giving them?
As far as the workers are concerned as it pertains to the election, we have stated that we must be professional as ever.
I can assure you, every INEC staff will do his best in accordance with code of conducts for INEC but then to the electorate, I think the way to go should be that we listen to all the contestants, let them tell us what they are going to do for us differently if they come in and when we are convinced, let us vote for them. So, we are advised to go there properly and conduct ourselves to vote. And then the whole idea is that we must eschew violence of any form.
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