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Edo Election: Your Votes Will Count, INEC Assures Edo Electorates

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Ahead of the September 19 governorship election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured the electorates that their votes will count.

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu gave the assurance on Monday during a stakeholders’ meeting in Benin City, the state capital.

To Yakubu, it is only the choice made by the voters that will determine who the next governor of the state will be for another four years.

“I wish to reassure you that votes will count and only the choice made by the people of Edo State will determine the outcome of the election,” he said. “The Commission shall not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate. Our focus is on our processes and procedures, nothing more.”

 

SEE FULL SPEECH HERE:

ADDRESS BY THE HONOURABLE CHAIRMAN, INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION, PROFESSOR MAHMOOD YAKUBU, AT THE EDO GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION STAKEHOLDERS’ MEETING HELD AT THE OBA AKENZUA II CULTURAL CENTRE, BENIN CITY, MONDAY 14TH SEPTEMBER 2020

1.​ Let me join our Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Edo State to once again welcome you all to this meeting. As many of you are aware, the Governorship election in Edo State will hold this Saturday after several months of preparations since the Commission released the timetable and schedule of activities on 6th February 2020. This is also the first Governorship election that the Commission will be conducting in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The global health emergency has necessitated a review of our policies, processes and procedures to protect the health of all those involved in elections in line with the guidelines issued by health authorities.

2.​ The Commission has dutifully carried out 12 out of 14 scheduled tasks contained in the timetable and schedule of activities for the election. We held many meetings with political parties and their candidates. We had several engagements with the security agencies at national and state levels. We consulted with stakeholders. We sought for and received, the blessings of Royal Fathers and religious leaders. We have recruited, trained and carefully screened all categories of ad hoc staff to be deployed to the field. We have delivered all non-sensitive materials for the election. Voter education and sensitisation are ongoing. We have made arrangements for the movement of personnel and materials to all polling units on Election Day. The Commission has taken every step and made every arrangement for the election holding this weekend.

READ ALSOClaims And Counter Claims Dominate As Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu Debate

3.​ Our ultimate objective is to ensure that the choice of who becomes the next Governor of Edo State is entirely in the hands of the voters. I wish to reassure you that votes will count and only the choice made by the people of Edo State will determine the outcome of the election. The Commission shall not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate. Our focus is on our processes and procedures. Nothing more.

4.​ In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, polling units will now open at 8.30 am (instead of 8.00 am) and close at 2.30 pm (instead of 2.00 pm). This has become necessary in order to accommodate the additional measures to protect public health necessitated by the global health emergency. However, all eligible voters who are on the queue by 2.30 pm will be allowed to vote in line with the Commission’s regulations. Other procedures for the election are clearly outlined in the Voters’ Code of Conduct (VCC) which has since been disseminated. Similarly, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge polling agents, election observers and the media to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Commission’s policy, copies of which have been widely circulated and more will be shared at this meeting.

5.​ As in previous elections, the Commission is deploying magnifying glasses and braille ballot guides to assist Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) to vote unaided. Earlier, the Commission translated and published its policy of conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the Voters’ Code of Conduct into braille in order to ensure greater awareness and effective participation of all citizens in the electoral process irrespective of disability.

6.​ To underscore our commitment to a credible and transparent electoral process in Nigeria, the Commission is determined to deepen the deployment of technology in elections. It is for this reason that the Commission recently built portals for the nomination of candidates by political parties as well as the accreditation of election observers and the media. We have used the portals seamlessly in preparing for the Edo Governorship election. The same applies to the Ondo Governorship election. We will deploy the same platforms for all subsequent elections, including the forthcoming bye-elections in 15 constituencies across 11 States of the Federation scheduled for 31st October 2020. We are working to ensure that in future elections, even the accreditation of polling agents nominated by political parties will also be done online.

7.​ Perhaps the most critical of the recent innovations introduced by the Commission is the use of a tablet now popularly called the z-pad. It is a new innovation introduced to serve as a secondary means of achieving full biometric accreditation using the facial image of the voter in support of the fingerprint authentication by the Smart Card Reader. Secondly, the camera on the tablet will be used to take a picture of the polling unit result (EC8A) and to upload the same on a dedicated portal (INEC RESULT VIEWING – IReV). This will enable all those interested in viewing the results to do so in real-time. The Commission deployed the z-pad in the Nasarawa Central State Constituency bye-election in Nasarawa State on 8th August 2020. It was a test-run intended to assess the functionality of the technology before its deployment in major elections. While the capture and upload of polling unit level result went on smoothly, the facial authentication did not. Without going into the technical details, let me say that the Commission encountered hardware and software issues which needed to be fixed.

8.​ Our ICT Department worked on the new device and made a presentation to the Commission which decided that the system needs to be robust enough before it can be deployed in a major election. Unlike the 44 polling units of the Nasarawa Central State Constituency, the Edo Governorship election involves 2,627 polling units. The Commission decided that since this technology is work in progress, we should carry out a further test-run in some of the smaller constituencies during the bye-elections scheduled for 31st October 2020 and thereafter engage with stakeholders before it can be deployed in major elections. The atmosphere in Edo State ahead of the election this weekend is already charged. We cannot afford to complicate it further by introducing a new technology we are not yet fully satisfied with.

9.​ However, the uploading of polling unit level results in the election on Saturday will proceed as planned. The z-pads have already been delivered, configured and ad hoc staff trained on its deployment on Election Day. Enough chargers have been provided to address the power problem identified during the Nasarawa test-run. We envisage that there will be high traffic of persons interested in viewing the results in real-time. Consequently, the Commission has dynamically expanded the result viewing portal to accommodate almost two million viewers at the same time without clogging. To view the uploaded results, please visit our website (www.inecelectionresults.com) to register and create an account.

10.​ I must quickly add that the Smart Card Readers will be used for voter verification and authentication. This is a mandatory requirement and where it is deliberately avoided to undermine the integrity of the electoral process, the result for the affected polling unit will be declared void in line with the Commission’s regulations and guidelines.

11.​ The Commission is also aware of the concern expressed in some quarters about the neutrality of our staff, in particular, the ad hoc staff engaged for election duty. We have heard allegations that some ad hoc staff were recruited in such a manner as to compromise the election. In response, the Commission deployed two National Commissioners who reviewed the process for strict compliance with the guidelines for such recruitment. I want to assure you that all categories of ad hoc staff have been vetted. The integrity of the process will not be compromised and there will be no partisan infiltration.

12.​ As the eligible voters in Edo State go to the polls on Saturday, I wish to renew my appeal to all political parties, candidates and their supporters for peaceful conduct. Your votes will count. Polling unit-level results will be uploaded for public view. However, this will not happen where the process is disrupted by violence or malpractices. The Commission is determined that no one will benefit from impunity or rewarded for bad behaviour such as vote-buying, ballot box snatching and stuffing, multiple voting, hijacking and diversion of election materials, disruption of collation, falsification of results, attack on INEC officials or compelling them to declare unofficial results. The people of Edo State must be allowed to freely vote for their preferred candidate without inducement or harassment. We have been assured by the security agencies that thugs and their sponsors will not have the freedom to move around freely to disrupt the election or collation of results. The Inspector-General of Police who is here personally will speak more about their plans to safeguard the process.

13.​ On Election Day, the national headquarters of INEC will monitor the election throughout Edo State. Our Zoom Situation Room will receive live reports from the field. Accredited observers and the media will also be invited to join at intervals. By doing so, the Commission will receive first-hand information as the election is going on. At the same time, citizens can contact us on our various platforms such as the toll-free INEC Citizens Contact Centre (ICCC) telephone line in addition to our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.

14.​ On this note, let me once again welcome you all to this meeting and to assure the people of Edo State that the Commission has taken every step to ensure that the election this weekend is free, fair, credible, inclusive and safe.

15.​ I thank you all for your presence and God bless.

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I’ve Never Seen People React So Passionately Of Victory, Says Obaseki

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Mr Godwin Obaseki is still basking in the euphoria of victory in the recently concluded governorship election in Edo State.

Obaseki, who contested under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) polled 307,955 votes to defeat his closest rival, Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who garnered 223,619 to win a second term as governor of Edo State.

Reacting to his victory on Sunday, the governor said his victory didn’t come as a surprise to him.

Describing his feeling, Obaseki said he is so excited by the show of love and support from different people across the state.

According to him, he has never seen citizens of Edo State react so spontaneously with such excitement.

“I feel very happy just watching the responses, reactions from citizens of Edo State across board. For me, I have never seen a group of people react so spontaneously with such excitement,” he said.

When asked on his plans to reconcile friends and associates who are aggrieved with the outcome of the election, Governor Obaseki said his doors are always open.

The governor also said his major rival in the contest, Ize-Iyamu had yet to congratulate him on the election victory.

With the elections over, Obaseki admitted that there is so much work to be done in the next four years, adding that his administration is ever ready to partner with his opponents on how to move the state forward.

“There is so much work ahead of us. I believe there is room for everybody to contribute. My doors are wide open for talks and consultations,” he added.

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No Man Can Successfully Play God, Ekweremadu Congratulates Obaseki

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Former Deputy President of the Senate and a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Campaign Council for Edo State, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has congratulated the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, on his victory in the state’s governorship election.

Ekweremadu, who commended the people of Edo State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and the security agencies for “rising to the occasion”, described the exercise as a huge relief given what he described as the “dwindling fortunes of the nation’s electoral process in recent years”.

The lawmaker, who was in Edo State to monitor the election, equally added that the Edo polls had proved, once again, that no man could effectively play God.

He said: “I join other well-meaning Nigerians to congratulate Governor Godwin Obaseki and the PDP on this well-deserved victory.

“While our electoral processes still leave much to be desired, I must say that compared to recent elections, the Edo State governorship poll has renewed the hope that we can get our elections right, given the conduct of the electorate, INEC, security agencies, and most of the other stakeholders, which ensured a peaceful process and an outcome that reflected the will of the people.

“For emphasis, the Edo 2020 election showcased the beauty of democracy: the supremacy of the people’s will over the whims and caprices of any single man or woman, be it a godfather or godmother.

“And if there is a moral lesson to be learnt, it is also that no man can successfully play God, for God will always put men in their place”.

Ekweremadu enjoined Obaseki to see his popular mandate as both an approval of his stewardship in the last four years and a call to lead Edo land on the path of greater peace, prosperity, and all-round development.

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Obaseki’s Victory Is Historic, A Lesson For Leaders – PDP

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has congratulated its candidate in the Edo State Governorship Election, Godwin Obaseki, for his re-election, describing the victory as historic.

The party in a statement signed by the on Sunday also noted that it is a lesson for all leaders to learn from.

They commended the electoral process and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to “continue to toe this new line of allowing for electoral uprightness, history will be beckoned to be kind to him”.

“On account of the reverberation of this victory across the length and breadth of our country, the@OfficialPDPNig implores President @MBuhari to continue in this newfound spirit of ensuring that the people are allowed to freely choose their leaders at all elections,” the party said.

It was a dramatic process that saw Obaseki run the governorship race against Ize-Iyamu for a second time in four years.

Both men faced each other in 2016, albeit with Obaseki flying the flag of the APC and Ize-Iyamu flying that of the PDP.

A political rift between the governor and Oshiomhole which spiraled beyond the state to national politics, saw both men switch parties and square up against each other on platforms they once criticised.

The campaign, characterised by drama and controversy that did not spare the State House of Assembly, was tempered by the intervention of the Oba of Benin to calm fears that the poll could turn violent.

A peace accord was also signed by all the candidates days before the poll as stakeholders made concerted efforts to ensure a successful poll.

In the run-up to the election, Governor Obaseki had reiterated severally that his victory will mark the end of ‘godfatherism’ in the state and ultimately, the country.

For the party, the victory is a loud lesson to the ‘godfathers’ that power belongs only to God.

“To the “political godfathers”, this election must serve as a loud lesson that power belongs only to God, which He confers through the people; and that no matter how an individual strives to lord it over others, the will of God, through the people, will always prevail.

They also thanked the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Yakubu Mahmood for ensuring that the election was conducted in a manner that was largely adjudged to be free, fair, transparent and credible.

“Nigerians hope that what we have witnessed in Edo state will not be an off-season procedure in the commission. We demand that this credible process applies to all our elections,” the PDP said.

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