Today January 16, 2019 is exactly one month to Nigeria’s Presidential election which will take place on Saturday 16th February. The National Assembly elections will also hold on the same day while Governorship and State Assembly elections will take place on March 2.
How ready are we all for this all-important national event which will determine the future or otherwise of our country?
Tomorrow, 17th January, INEC will publish the final lists of the presidential and National Assembly contestants while they are expected to provide us with governorship and states houses of assembly lists on January 31, 2019.
INEC says the number of registered voters for the 2019 general elections is 84,004,084 as against about 68 million for the 2015 elections.
However, many of us are still asking several salient questions as to our state of readiness in different aspects of preparations – questions for the government, INEC, political parties and their candidates, prospective voters, election observers, security agencies, and the general public.
1. How do voters protect theirs votes and make sure their votes count?
2. Does Nigeria have the ability to conduct free and fair elections?
3. Can there be a level playing field for candidates to source and spend money on campaigns?
4. What of the insecurity in the North-East, farmers and herdsmen clashes across the country, violence and militancy? How do we ensure insecurity does not affect campaigns and voting?
5. How can we prevent vote buying and ballot snatching?
6. How can we avoid making the elections a do-or-die matter?
7. Will every registered voter’s name be on the register at the polling booth?
8. Will there be enough efficient card readers and other materials and can there smooth distribution of the materials and staff?
9. Will the security teams be impartial and assertive in dealing with people at the polling stations?
10. Will every eligible person get his Voters Card before B-Day?
11. Will those who applied for change of voting location be taken care of?
12. Are INEC and the political parties ready for a possible cyber attack of their databases and work hard to ensure it doesn’t happen? Remember the Americans are still probing whether Russia was involved in their last presidential elections two years after.
13. Can we avoid controversies that are likely to derail the elections and focus on making hay when the day comes?
Lots of questions. And I bet many more are agitating people’s minds.
INEC says it has printed Permanent Voter Cards for all new registered voters between 2017 and 2018 and that they are ready for collection.
The commission also says all the PVCs of those who requested for replacement and relocation of their cards ahead of 2019 general elections, had also been printed and ready for collections.
The commission has printed all PVCs for new registrants between April 27, 2017 and Aug. 31, 2018.
”We have also printed all the requests for replacement of lost cards, all requests for transfer and relocations. The last batch that we printed were for those who applied for transfer and relocation, and those who applied for replacement of damaged and defaced cards”, says INEC.
But we all know the problems of ‘go and come back tomorrow’ at the various local government offices where many of us have gone to pick up our PVCs.
We have been told that only voters with the permanent voter cards will be allowed to vote, and that accreditation of voters will be done electronically. It will be good if this works out the way it is supposed to do.
But we still need to seek answers to our questions. Most of the answers are with us and we should be asking ourselves – ARE WE READY FOR 16TH FEBRUARY 2019?
We hope we can all put our house in order and participate fully in ensuring we vote in the right leaders during this election season. You have no one to blame but yourself if we end up with the wrong leaders.
Again – ARE WE READY?