Christiana Gokyo, Jos
Plateau State Resident Electoral Commissioner for the state’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mallam Hussaini Halilu Pai, has disclosed that Plateau state has a total of 2,480,455 registered voters.
He said, a total number of 512,532 PVCs out of which 311,483 have so far been collected, living a balance of 201,049 uncollected as at January 31st, 2019.
The commissioner disclosed this on Saturday in Jos, at a Town Hall Meeting in preparation for the 2019 general elections when he revealed that there are 2,631 polling units and 4,989 voting points.
According to him, for the IDPs – those still living in the camps – 26 centers have been created for them to vote so as to enable them exercise their franchise.
He also stated that the Commission has introduced numerous innovations within the process. These innovations are responses to challenges observed in the past elections with the view to building a better and stronger electoral process.
“Some of these innovations introduced are Biometric Register of Voters, Permanent Voter Card with multiple security features, R-Modified open Ballot System (REMOBS), which allows for transparent voting and results announcement procedures at the polling units,” he stated.
“Others, he said, include continuous accreditation and voting, improved on security features on sensitive electoral materials, serial numbering and colour-coding of ballot papers and results sheets as well as security coding of ballot boxes and customized ballot papers and result sheets.”
He appealed for the need for continued support in many ways, especially continuous voter education and sensitization; and there is the need to raise awareness of citizens on the manifestos, logos, and acronyms of political parties in view of the large number of political parties in these elections.
He stressed that there is the need to find ways of preventing and mitigating violence in these elections and, and assured that the Commission will remain focused on the goal to delivering free, fair, transparent and credible election in the state.
Speaking also, the Plateau state Police Commissioner, CP Austin I. Agbonlahor has assured political parties that his Command is in synergy with other security organizations and law enforcement agencies, and has decided to approach the elections from different perspectives.
According to him, instead of taking it to be an event, the Command has decided to make it a process and the process is carefully divided into three (3) phases.
He said the pre-election period, which is already on, is witnessing intelligent and strategic raid of criminal hideouts and careful assessment of election flash-points, and the second-phase the Command is preparing for is the elections proper, adding that this is the period that requires the collaboration of everybody.
He stated that the Police and other security agencies, the INEC, political parties, the candidates and the voters are to advice politicians and political parties to educate their supporters to be orderly during elections.
He said the last but not least is the Post Elections Phase, which is very challenging, adding that, this phase witnesses announcement of results and the reaction of both the winners and the losers.
He advised winners to be careful the way they celebrate so that the losers will not feel too bad, and equally advised losers also to take it as the decision of the electorates and prepare to do better during next elections.
According to him, in order to achieve a violent-free elections on the Plateau, all the critical stakeholders, the INEC, the Police, other security and law enforcement agencies, the political parties, contestants, youth leaders and religious leaders must cooperate by prevailing on the youth to eschew violence but embrace peace.
The commissioner called on the INEC to be fair to all concerned and to be neutral in handling the elections, and stated that the Command has also drawn an elaborate Operation Order that takes care of all services, adding that this is designed to cover the seventeen (17) local governments in Plateau State, all the Registration Area Centres (RACs), Polling Units and Voting Points.
He assured that the telephone lines of the Commissioner of Police and members of his management team as well as the Divisional Police Officers are in the public domain and shall again be shared to the stakeholders and will be there for prompt report of the activities of their personnel during elections.
“We are also carefully monitoring the campaigns and rallies of all political parties to avoid clash of venue and other interests. I advised political parties to maintain the maturity so far exhibited,” he noted.
“The Command is carefully gathering intelligence for proper analysis and better operation. This intelligence gathering has informed and enhanced our threats mapping to tackle the operations of Sara Suka and other cult groups in the state for violent-free elections,” he said.
On the issue of the Arms and Ammunition mop-up, “The Inspector-General of Police’s window is still open for people to willingly summit their arms that are illegally acquired to the Plateau State Police Command before it will be too late,” he advised.
“The abuse of drugs and the consumption of illicit substances are on the rise and must be checked, and urged political parties not to encourage this for the benefit of the larger society.
“The destruction of campaign bill boards of opposing political parties should be discouraged, adding that although, nobody has officially reported to the Police but the social media is awashed with such complaints. This should be discouraged by all and sundry.