The Independent National Electoral Commission has assured the 19 candidates participating in the September 28 governorship election in Edo State that it will not do the bidding of any political party at the poll.
The Edo State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Sam Olumekun, who spoke at a stakeholders’ meeting held in Benin, on Thursday, urged the parties to convince the 1,924,072 eligible voters about their suitability to produce the next governor, rather than hope on the electoral umpire to decide their fate.
“Please, leave INEC alone; go out to the people. Go and convince the people to vote for you. INEC has no business about who wins an election; that is the point,” the REC told a gathering of party leaders and candidates at the meeting.
He added, “Go out there to the people. Tell them that you want to represent them; give them your manifesto and if they decide to vote for you, let them vote for you.”
“INEC is not going to do anybody’s bidding and I assure you on that.”
While reacting to the allegations of partisanship against INEC, Olumekun vowed to resign within an hour, if he was found culpable of bias.
He said, “I have heard about the allegations that INEC is compromised and stuffs like that. I can assure you, if anybody comes up with any evidence that I am compromised, I will resign within one hour of receiving such evidence.”
He also explained that the electoral umpire would ensure that all the political parties were carried along in the electoral process.
Olumekun said, “We want you to see the process as transparent. We will go to the Central Bank at 8am. When we collect the materials, we will move straight to our office – in company with all the security agencies. We will start distributing to the LGAs there.
“INEC has prepared a document for each party. It contains the particulars of all the sensitive materials that we are going to distribute, so that you would not say that you did not know whether ballot papers or results sheets were there. They are also customised.”
He, however, urged party agents to accompany the documents and ensure that they were moved to the appropriate locations.
Olumekun also noted that the presence of security agents, collation officers and the party’s agents were required at the local government and ward collection centres
The REC, who stated that there was no plan to shift the poll, assured that the last postponement would not affect the outcome of the poll because all the smart card readers had been reconfigured.
He, therefore, called on various security agencies to begin the deployment of personnel early.
On the possibility of the election affecting the conduct of the West African Senior School Certificate Examination, Olumekun said that the affected candidates had been given a special identification to enable them to take their examinations on the day of the poll.
He, however, advised them to be at the examination centres as early as 7am.
Earlier, Edo State Commissioner of Police, Haliru Gwandu, said that the police had made adequate preparations to provide security during the exercise.
Gwandu, who assumed duty as the new commissioner of police by replacing Fimihan Adeoye, assured that the security agency would operate an open-door policy.
While decrying what he described as discriminatory statements against the police, the new CP urged the political parties not to politicise security issues.
He, however, called for the cooperation of all the stakeholders to make the election peaceful.