The Independent National Electoral Commission has promised to make the Federal Capital Territory area councils election a model for the forthcoming governorship elections in Osun and Ekiti states and the 2013 general elections.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Planning, Monitoring and Strategy Committee, Prof. Abdullahi Zuru, stated this in Abuja, on Saturday, at the “Red Zone Implementers’ Workshop.”
The workshop was organised by INEC, in partnership with the European Centre for Electoral Support, towards the successful conduct of the Feb. 12 FCT elections.
NAN reported that Zuru said that the commission would also deploy the necessary technology, resources and logistics for the successful conduct of the elections.
He said, “Let me re-echo the Hon. Chairman of INEC by reminding us that the FCT election is unique in the sense that it is the only local government level election being conducted by INEC, the utmost election management body in the country, the West African sub-region and indeed Africa as a whole.
“We simply cannot afford to underperform in the conduct of this election. Therefore, the Hon Chairman, INEC has declared it as ‘The commission’s election’.
“Accordingly, I, on behalf of the Chairman, wish to assure you that the commission will deploy all necessary human, material and managerial resources to ensure that the election is free, fair, credible, peaceful, inclusive and transparent.
It will be a model for the forthcoming state and Federal Constituencies bye-elections, the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections and indeed the 2013 general election.”
He said that INEC’s strategy in monitoring its preparations for the elections was anchored on three timelines, the “Green, Amber and Red Zones”.
He explained that the Green Zone included the necessary post-election planning and preparatory activities and all other activities from the release of the timetable to about 16-18 weeks before the election.
The Amber Zone, according to him, had a timeline of 16 weeks beginning from 14 weeks before an election and would end two weeks to an election, while Red Zone consisted of nine days to election, on election day and two days after the election.
“However, today’s workshops is about stepping up our efforts in readiness for the critical phase of the election preparation, namely, the red zone.
“It consists of the following nine activities: deployment of security, INEC funds, INEC sensitive materials, preparation and submission of reports, registration area centre (RAC) and camp activities.
Others are: continuous accreditation and voting, retrieval of election materials, transportation and collation centres, among others.
Executing these activities meticulously and timely will take us to the promised land of free, fair, credible, peaceful, inclusive, transparent and therefore acceptable election.
“Therefore, it is an obligation for us to scan the FCT environment and those of the adjoining states to identify the internal and external factors with the potential to impact negatively on the elections, analyse the factors and evolve effective prevention and/or mitigating measures,” Zuru said.
INEC’s national commissioner in charge of the North Central zone, Prof. Sani Adamu, assured that the FCT election would be free, fair, transparent, successful inclusive and peaceful.
Adamu said that INEC had the capacity to deliver credible elections in the FCT, which is critical to the commission in its preparations for future elections, including 2023.
“This coming election is very important to all of us. It signposts and is a recipe to the 2023 general elections,” Adamu said.
On his part, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for FCT, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, said the essence of the workshop was to assess INEC’s preparations for a peaceful and successful conduct of the FCT elections.
He said that the workshop was important to INEC, to analyze its election monitoring and support centre (EMSC) tools, discuss its level of preparedness, including what had been done and what is left to be done.
This, according to him, would enable INEC to return to its offices and map out real projects, programmes and the determination to ensure that the election was conducted successfully.
In his remarks, ECES Project Coordinator, Hamza Fassi-fihri, said that the workshop provided an appropriate platform to assess the level of the INEC’s preparedness for upcoming polls.
Fassi-fihri added that the FCT election was particularly important for INEC to draw lessons for future elections, including that of off-cycle governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun, scheduled for later this year and the 2023 general elections.
He described the EMSC as very instrumental, being an innovative election management system that monitors critical occurrences along the electoral cycle.
The project coordinator said that the phased monitoring of the processes that it offers was a critical factor for success.
According to him, “It helps election managers adjust to evolving and uncertain contexts and takes appropriate actions to avoid glitches and delays, leading to successful outcomes.
“I am sure the EMSC tool is playing its role in helping INEC identify gaps, risks and lapses in the process, and is useful in addressing same.
In addition to this important role of identifying issues ahead of time, monitoring also ensures accountability and transparency in the electoral process, thereby inspiring stakeholders’ confidence and acceptability of outcomes.
“It is, therefore, commendable to note that INEC has demonstrated strong commitment to a comprehensive, scientific and evidence-based monitoring of the electoral process, through the innovative tool of the EMSC.
“It is my hope that this red zone implementers workshop will be useful for the election managers convened here, to critically assess the status of preparations, while identifying necessary actions for a hitch-free exercise.”
He reiterated ECES’ commitment to strengthen and deepen the democratic process in Nigeria.