By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday, paid a visit to Nasarawa local government in Nasarawa state, to assess the state of preparedness ahead of the August 8, 2020 parliamentary election into the Nasarawa State House of Assembly.
The election is set to take place in seven wards, 44 polling units and other voting points with a total of 71,919 registered voters.
At the inspection, the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, noted that Saturday’s poll is unique, as it is the first election to be held since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), adding that the Commission was set to conduct a credible exercise in accordance with the laws of the land.
Shortly after leaving the Commission’s area office, Prof. Yakubu and his entourage paid a courtesy visit to the Emir of Nasarawa, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Ibrahim Usman Jibril, where he noted that the lessons that will be learnt from this election will help INEC in Edo and Ondo governorship elections, as well as so many by-elections to be conducted by INEC.
According to him, “This is the first election we are holding since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. We thought we should come to check the level of preparations and I am happy we are joined by the Liaison Officer of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
“As far as the headquarters is concerned, everything that Nasarawa state INEC office requires for the election has been provided. So, we want to see how ready they are to deploy for Saturday’s election,” Yakubu said.
He further said that the visit was also for the Commission to meet with traditional rulers in the constituency as well as relevant stakeholders in the by-election including security agencies, adding that strict compliance with COVID-19 protocols would be the hallmark of the election including wearing of face masks by voters.
Responding, the Emir of Nasarawa, His Royal Highness, Ibrahim Usman Jibril pledged the readiness of the entire Nasarawa Emirate for peaceful and orderly exercise come Saturday August 8, 2020.
Emir Jibril also expressed optimism that Saturday’s exercise would provide invaluable lessons that would help the commission prepare well for the September 19 and October 10 governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states respectively.
According to him, “Peace shall reign in this election. Nasarawa is a huge local government in terms of land mass. It is bigger than Anambra, Abia and Edo states.
“This election is significant because it is the first election to hold in the COVID-19 era. Ironically, the man we are trying to replace lost his life to COVID-19,” he said.
For his part, the Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees, who incidentally hails from the state, Senator Walid Jibrin said political stakeholders will work together to ensure a hitch-free exercise.
Jibrin, while calling on the Commission to provide a level playing field, noted that the PDP would play by the rules, adding that his party has done enough sensitization of its members given the peculiarity of the election.
Also speaking, a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Muhammed Sani Otto who represented the APC spoke in like manner, stressing that all hands are on deck to support INEC in delivering a transparent election.
The Nasarawa State Central constituency seat became vacant following the death in April of the previous occupant, Hon. Suleiman Adamu from coronavirus complications.
Recall that two political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), cleared candidates to participate in the exercise.
Meanwhile, some of the non-sensitive materials inspected include; Voters Register, voting cubicles, ballot boxes, hand sanitizers, generating sets, face masks and jackets for electoral and presiding officers, stamp and other voting materials.
The INEC chairman was accompanied on the inspection visit by an INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voters’ Education Committee, Barrister Festus Okoye and his counterpart overseeing Nasarawa state, Mallam Mohammed Haruna.