Worried by the irregularities that characterised last the February 23, 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections due to inability to operate Smart Card Readers, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reshuffled the entire ad-hoc staff in Niger State.
Niger is one of the states with records of over-voting and related electoral flaws caused majorly due to poor management of the entire electoral process in the state over reported cases of malfunctioning Smart Card Readers.
Announcing the changes barely 24 hours after declaring that it would not accept results from communities that refuse to use the Smart Card readers in the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly election, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Niger State, Professor Sam Egwu, said the decision is to avoid a repeat of what happened during the February 23 election.
Professor Egwu disclosed this at the Presidential and National Assembly Elections evaluation and analysis organised by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) state Ministry of Information Chapel in Minna, the state capital on Wednesday.
Many of the ad-hoc staff, he said could not discharge their duties effectively and INEC cannot risk failures following reports about their inability to manipulate the Smart Card Readers during the 23rd Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“Some of the affected Returning Officers demonstrated rude behaviour some could not operate the Card Reader machines or fill the result sheets properly and this action affected the entire voting process,” he said.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner gave detailed number of ad-hoc staff to include.
He said, “We engaged 334 Supervisory Polling Officials (SPOs), 3,185 Presiding Officers (POs) and 15, 356 Assistant Presiding Officers (APOs) I-III, making a total number of 18, 875.”
He said INEC would before Saturday conduct a Refresher Training for the ad-hoc staff on election duty procedures and their roles ahead of the polls, adding, “We have also earmarked a number of reserved staff to ensure hitch-free elections.”
The facilitator of the training and former Council Chairman of the NUJ, Comrade Mohammed Mohammed, called on politicians to always submit themselves to the rules and regulations of the game to avoid crisis during the elections as essential elements of democracy.
Mohammed said the objective of the Evaluation and Analysis is to apply technicalities which include voters turnout, security preparedness, Ad-hoc personnel’s readiness, logistics, availability of sensitive materials to improve on the conduct of a free, fair and credible election.