Agents of political parties participating in Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State have given the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) thumbs up for its transparent handling of election material and its seamless preparation for the election.
The high praise of the election umpire comes as materials for the election are being moved from INEC offices across the state to the Registration Area Center (RAC) from where they will be distributed to polling units for tomorrow’s election.
Oara Osetohamen, the agent for the Action Democratic Party (ADP) in Esan West Local Government Area, whose comment was echoed by other agents present, told PREMIUM TIMES that INEC has been transparent in its handling of sensitive election materials. He said he has had no reason to worry since he was deployed by his party to monitor the distribution and verification of materials from Benin, the capital city of the state.
“INEC has been transparent with the distribution of materials, so far. As you can see, they are sorting out the ballots papers before they are sent to the wards. I have no cause to complain. Everything has been smooth so far,” he said.
When asked if he has received complaints from other agents of his party in other parts of the town, Mr Osetohamen said the reports he was getting from across the state are those of satisfaction with INEC’s preparedness.
The story was not different at the INEC office in Irrua, Esan Central Local Government Area, where the agent for the All Progressives Congress, Anthony Ibhafidon, said he has been impressed with INEC so far, adding that the handling of sensitive election materials by INEC so far is a major improvement from previous elections in the state.
“Everything is going accordingly. No sign of trouble, no fraud. Everything is in order. This is a major improvement in the system,” he said.
He also added that he has received no reports of disturbances from other agents of the party from other parts of the state.
The atmosphere around INEC offices at both local governments was busy but devoid of tension. Some security personnel keeping guard at the INEC office at Esan West were seen singing and dancing. Others who were seated at the entrance of the office spoke to people wanting to enter the building courteously.
At the INEC office at Esan Central, security personnel sat under the trees in the compound that provided shed from the mild sunshine. Some were seen exchanging jokes while others were engaged in small talks.
Out of the two INEC offices, ad-hoc staff for the election were seen checking their names and deployment on lists pasted on the wall and the gates of offices.
We are set – Electoral Officers
Meanwhile, the electoral officer for Esan West, Priscilla Imoudusule, and her counterpart in Esan Central, Helen Ajayi, told PREMIUM TIMES that they are set for the election as materials are about being moved to the RACs in both local governments for ease arriving at the polling units on time.
“What you are seeing is the batching of ballot papers to wards,” said Ms Imoudusule, as she pointed to an INEC employee counting booklets of ballot papers aloud to party agents seated in a large room at the INEC office.
“Material are being prepared to be sent to the RACs. I can confirm that these materials are for the 10 RACs in the local government,” she added.
At Esan West, this reporter saw generators, toiletries, straw mats and other materials arranged in groups to be conveyed to the RACs.
At Esan Central, boxes of electoral materials were arranged on the floor of a room at the INEC office while Ms Ajayi, who was surrounded by party agent, explained what the process was:
“They are confirming the serial numbers of the ballot papers and materials. They took the serial numbers yesterday so they have to confirm them before they are moved to the RAC where they (agents and INEC officials) will sleep.
“Sleeping at the RAC makes it possible to the polling units on time. Voting will commence by 8:30 am,” she said.