Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Asaba, Delta State, yesterday, said desperation of politicians to win elections at all costs resulting in do-or-die mentality is a serious threat to 2019 general elections.
Besides, the commission said vote-buying, incendiary speeches by contestants and the atmosphere of mistrust, resulting in security challenges, threatens the credibility of the forthcoming polls.
INEC Chairman, Mr Mahmood Yakubu raised these fears when he delivered a keynote address at ongoing 14th All Nigeria Editors’ conference with the theme: ‘Credible elections, sustainable democracy and the Nigerian media.’
Represented by Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State, Mr Mike Igini, Yakubu said hate speeches had already charged the political atmosphere, and also, noted that stakeholders must avoid actions that could bring about breakdown of law and order.
“The general election is more complex. The commission has been engaging various security agencies, under the auspices of ICCES, for cooperation in securing the election environment and for absolute neutrality in 2019 elections” and charged the media to protect public interest against abuse by those entrusted with power and resources of state, as well as hold election manager to account to ensure that electoral rules are obeyed.
Mahmud tasked the media to educate voters on their democratic rights; report development on campaigns; provide platform for political parties and candidates; provide platform for the public to communicate their concerns; report election results; and scrutinize the electoral process.
On preparations for 2019 elections, Yakubu said the commission “has improved on the deployment of personnel for elections, addressed some of the intractable challenges to the functionality of new technological innovations for elections and able to collate, transmit and declare results of elections more accurately and speedily.”
He also said the commission started planning for next year’s election since 2015, and added that between April 27, 2017 and August 31, 2018, when INEC embarked on the Continuous Voters’ Registration exercise, a total of 14,551,482 fresh registrants were registered.
Yakubu disclosed that the voting population for 2019 is projected at over 80 million comprising of existing 67 million voters as at 2015 and fresh registrants.
He reiterated there are 91 registered political parties but that the Commission will disclose the number of parties that will be participating in 2019 general election at the end of submission of candidates by the various parties.
INEC chairman stated that the election will be conducted in 119,973 units across 8,809 Registration Areas (wards) of the 774 local government area of the country.
“Elections will hold in 1,558 constituencies in 2019, made up of one presidential constituency, 109 senatorial districts, 360 federal constituencies, 991 state constituencies and 68 area councils in FCT.”