Kogi State Guber Election: NGO Wants Stakeholders to Ensure Security
Ishaq Dan-Imam, Lokoja.
Ahead of the 11 November off-cycle polls in Kogi State, a non-religious and non-governmental organization (NGO), the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), has called on the election stakeholders in the state to work harder toward security amid fears of election violence.
The CTA made the appeal on Tuesday in Lokoja, the state capital, at a one-day stakeholders’ engagement on election security and state of preparedness for the November 11 off-season governorship election.
The Centre noted that intelligence-sharing among election stakeholders, especially security agencies, will instill confidence into the people during and after the election day.
The Executive Director of CTA, Mrs Faith Ossai Nwadishi, urged the Police and partner agencies to increase the synergy between other stakeholders through continuous engagement with the grassroots to ensure maximum protection of citizens on the election day.
“Security is a critical aspect of electoral process that requires attention during the entire electoral process, and the election management body (INEC) has recently raised an alarm and fears, indicating that insecurity may pose a great challenge to the governorship election.
“Citizens too have had cause to worry over the issue of insecurity in the state, and if this is unchecked, it may discourage citizens from coming out to exercise their franchise on election day.
“The CTA will be glad with the process, if the security agencies share important information with other stakeholders, especially on the flash points by ensuring that they are properly trained in accordance with the election security personnel (ESP) training manual; the electoral security personnel (ESP) training facilitators guide; the electoral security (ESP) handbook and the basic security in election duty (BaSED) handbook to ensure professional conduct of security personnel on election duty,” said Nwadishi.
On voters’ inducement and influence of money in elections, the civil society activist, observed that the symbolic presence of law enforcement agents at polling units during previous elections, had not deterred ‘Vote Buying.’
“It’s important that a more result-oriented method like covert operations be adopted to curb the negative use of money to influence votes, including the criminal purchases of Permanent Voter’s Cards by politicians.
“We advise that citizens shun vote-buying and selling, which undermine the election, and, as such, candidates should campaign based on issues and avoid heating up the polity and creating fears in the hearts of people who want to vote.
“Also, security agencies should assure the masses of adequate protection within the election periods,” said the CTA
The CTA projected the movement of personnel and materials as one of the great challenges that the INEC would face on the election day. It, therefore, sought the cooperation of the executives of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), who handle the transportation of election materials and personnel during elections in Nigeria.
“The delay in the transportation of election materials and personnel has severely hampered operations, leading to a delay in commencement of elections, and it was for this reason that the electoral commission signed the first MoU with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in January 2015 to ease movement of election materials and personnel on election day.
“We appeal to the Road Transport Workers Union in Nigeria to keep an eye on their members to ensure materials and personnel are delivered to designated locations right on time without delays,” the CTA implored.
On his part, a member of the CTA Advisory Board, Prince Babatunde Oluajo, emphasized the importance of continuous engagement with the grassroots to increase awareness on election transparency, greater political participation, peace-building and security. He urged security agencies to be proactive in dealing with the security challenges ahead of the election.
The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has promised to deploy a total of 12,000 Civil Defence operatives to man the polling stations in Kogi State, while the Nigerian Immigration Service has said that irregular migrants resident in the state will be prevented from participating in the elections.
According to the CTA, the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) record shows that the number of registered voters in Kogi State stands at 1,932,654, and a significant number of these voters have collected their PVCs, totaling 1,813,741 voters expected to cast their votes across the 239 electoral wards and 3,508 polling units in the state.