Nigerians have been reassured by National Security Adviser (NSA), Malam Nuhu Ribadu, that the off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi will be held free and clear of any intervention.
At the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) meeting on the governorship elections in Imo, Bayelsa, and Kogi, which took place on Friday at the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in Abuja, Ribadu made this statement.
He said that in order to guarantee a free, fair, and credible election, the security services would collaborate with INEC.
“We want to give assurance to Nigerians that this election will be even better than what we have had in the past. This election is going to be free and fair.
“This election will be without interference. This election is going to be without violence. This election is going to be credible.
“It is going to be litmus test for us. Three important states, one in the North-Central, one in the South-East, one in the South-South and we are ready.
“We will provide what it takes to provide credible elections and we are impressed with the preparations we have seen from INEC and we will work together. Collectively it is our responsibility to deliver,’’ he said.
Nothing is more essential to a democracy than free and fair elections, and President Bola Tinubu’s administration is prepared to provide them, according to Ridadu, who also stated that the security agencies were fully equipped for the state elections.
“The President has issued his directives. This will be his first election overseeing a free, fair, and legitimate election, he declared. “ He said that we should take this message to INEC and to Nigerians that he is going to be very much available to support you to make sure Nigeria have free and fair elections.
“I also to tell everyone including the politicians, nothing much important than to have a free and fair election, if we want this country is to move forward.
“ He is a democrat, he believes in democracy. He will support you. Already we have seen it as the entire requirement we have putting out to him, he has given us the go ahead.
“The entire security forces and all our requirement has been met, the rest is for us to deliver,’’ he said.
Ribadu commended INEC Chairman for his efforts toward improvement of Nigeria electoral process.
He said elections conducted so far under Yakubu had been progressively, improving and Nigeria now moving towards meeting expected standard.
Earlier in his remarks, Yakubu who is also the co-chair of ICCES urged the security to take decisive action against perpetrators of electoral violence in the three state elections.
He said that Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi were not the easiest States in Nigeria to conduct elections because of their difficult geographical terrain and prevailing insecurity.
These according to Yakubu were compounded by negative mobilisation by political actors, especially since the commencement of campaign in public on July 14.
“Ultimate responsibility for election security lies with the security agencies. Our message to the security agencies is to take decisive action against perpetrators of electoral violence.
“This is the surest way to guarantee a safe environment for the peaceful conduct of elections and electoral activities.
“In doing so, security personnel on electoral duty should remain neutral and committed to the established professional code of conduct and rules of engagement,’’Yakubu said.
He called on politicians in states where the election would take place to call their candidates and supporters to order.
According to the INEC Chairman, there has to be an end to violence and other anti-democratic practises including vote-buying, attacking poll workers, and interfering with the electoral process.
Within the three states, he revealed that 5,169,692 of the 5,409,438 registered voters have obtained their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs).
Yakubu noted that qualified voters were expected to cast ballots in all 10,510 polling places in their states. He stated that there were two polling units in Bayelsa and 38 in Imo without registered voters.
“Similarly, election results will be collated in 649 Registration Areas/Wards, 56 Local Government Areas and three state collation centres.
“This gives us a cumulative figure of 11,178 voting and collation locations to deploy security personnel in the three states.
“This is in addition to ensuring a secure environment for the ongoing campaigns and rallies by political parties and candidates, security of voters, the escort of personnel and materials, protection of assets and general security for all persons with legitimate reason to participate in the election and electoral activities.