Electoral Commission restates readiness for Gombe election

Rebecca Muazu, Gombe

The Gombe State Independent Electoral Commission has given electorates in the state the assurance that all polling units will be properly equipped to ensure free and fair elections.

It dispelled fears expressed in some quarters that it would tactically truncate the process of the election, thereby giving undue advantage to the ruling party in the state.

It says it has concluded all necessary preparations for the conduct of the Saturday, February 25, 2017 Local Government Council Elections in the state.

Speaking to Journalists in Gombe, the Commissioner in charge of Political Affairs, Mr Kalagar Lubo, said, the commission had already trained all supporting staff, comprising of presiding officers and supervisors who would be deployed to the 2,218 polling units, in the 11 local government areas in the state.

Mr. Lubo said there would be two presiding officers in each of the polling units, while 11 electoral officers and their assistants would be at each of the local government areas and supervisors for each of the 114 wards.

He, however debunked rumours and allegations coming from some quarters over the commission’s readiness to conduct free and credible elections.

It will be recalled that the Coalition of Progressive Political Parties on Tuesday this week notified the Gombe State Electoral Commission, the various arms of government in the state, as well as security agencies and other stakeholders of some of the issues that were causing apprehension to the opposition parties in the state.

These complaints include allegations that the state electoral commission was not intending to provide election materials, or intended to provide small or inadequate quantity of election materials in some selected units, that the recruitment of electoral officials and officers was shrouded in secrecy and that there would be no accreditation of voters.

These and many other complaints the Coalition of Progressive Political Parties, made up of ten opposition political parties laid before the state electoral commission, seeking for appropriate action.

Mr Kalagar Lubo, said such allegations were baseless.“We are working under oath, and we are working for the state, and if not, then why should we print all the election materials and waste government resources? Such allegations are baseless, all I can say on this is, people should have facts for their allegations, you just don’t presume and claim your presumptions are right,” Mr. Lubo said.

In the meantime, Mr. Lubo said the Gombe State Independent Electoral Commission had recruited and trained ad-hoc staff for the conduct of the local council election.

“We are fully prepared for the Saturday 25th February local government’s election in the state. “we have 2, 218 polling stations each have preceding officer and clack,  we have 11 local governments for each there is an electoral officer and their assistants and we have 114 wards each has supervisors”, he said.

Overall, the Gombe State Electoral Commission said it would start the distribution of election materials to the local governments on Friday and that security personnel were being deployed to maintain law and order in all the units, with all political parties sending their agents to the polling stations.

On the case before the court challenging the Commission’s readiness to maintain neutrality in conducting the election, the commission it was in no position to pre-empt the court ruling.

It said it had disqualified any contestant from participating in the election, whether as chairman or councillor except the candidate the All Progressives Congress in Balanga who wanted to contest as a deputy chairman candidate.

Nnenna.O