The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Lagos State on Wednesday hosted the Senate Committee on INEC in continuation of the committee’s oversight visit to assess its preparedness for 2019 General Elections.
The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reports that the committee, led by its Chairman, Sen. Suleiman Nazif, was received by Adelani Asade, INEC’s Administrative Secretary on behalf of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Sam Olumekun.
According to Mr Nazif, the visit was aimed at stock taking, inventory, assessment and appraisal of the funds and appropriation of the commission for enhanced, free, fair and credible elections.
He said that the committee engaged the commission on the general level of preparedness for the 2019 elections, rate of PVCs collection and outcome of the public display of voter registers.
The senator added that the committee was interested in the training and retraining of Smart Card Readers’ operators and peculiar modalities put in place to ensure credibility and success of all elections.
Mr Nazif said that the rate of interface and engagement with relevant stakeholders, especially security and international observers, as well as the challenges and issues hampering on smooth operations of the commission were of concern to the committee.
The committee, after a tour of the INEC facilities, frowned at the commission’s storage facilities for Card Reader Machines and the huge number of uncollected Permanent Voters Cards in the state.
Mr Nazif said: “Having gone round your offices, I am quite impressed with what I have seen.
“However, there are certain observations which I believe this is not peculiar to Lagos Office, the issue of storage.
“One of the most important aspects in our electioneering process are the card readers. The storage of this card readers is something I have problem with.
“Storage facilities must be upgraded, I don’t know what the commission is doing about cooling system but I was surprised that the place where card readers are stored are over heated.
“I wonder how these card readers will last. You know how expensive these card readers are. You know the importance of these card readers, especially in our present day political evolution and development in Nigeria.
“What happens if the majority of our card readers are not functioning. The storage is in a very poor condition. I think we need to do something about this because we cannot afford to allow these card readers in that condition.”
According to him, if the card readers are stored in facilities that are extremely hot, it will affect their optimal performance on election days.
Mr Nazif, who said that he observed same issues in most states, urged the commission to improve on its storage facilities, saying that the place where cards readers were kept could affect their functionality during elections.
He expressed concern on the 1.5 million uncollected Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs, in the state and urged the commission to engage more relevant stakeholders to ensure the cards get to their owners.
Welcoming the guests, Mr Asade said that the commission was doing everything possible to increase voter education to ensure PVCs get to their owners and conduct flawless elections in 2019.
“We are making every effort to reach out to Lagosians through the print and electronic media, market outreach, visit to churches and mosque, stakeholders meetings at local government level for eligible voters to collect their PVCs.
” As to the level of preparedness for 2019 elections, I make bold to tell you that INEC in Lagos State is ready,” Mr Asade said.
He said that the commission would upgrade the commission’s storage facilities to secure the card readers.
Mr Asade urged the committee to assist the commission in providing wherewithal to ensure distribution of PVCs to their owners at the grassroots.