The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Imo State, Francis Ezeonu, says that the commission will deploy 20,000 ad-hoc personnel in the forthcoming 2019 elections in the state for smooth election conduct.
Mr. Ezeonu, a professor, made this known at a Town Hall Meeting/Sensitisation campaign on the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise in Ideato North and Ideato South Local Government areas of Imo State.
The sensitisation campaign was in partnership with Development Dynamics, a non-governmental organisation.
Mr. Ezeonu said that because of the enormous task during elections, the commission would employ the services of ad-hoc staff who would be adequately trained, especially on how to operate the card reader machine.
He allayed the fears being expressed by some stakeholders on the challenges of using the card reader for election, saying that the machines had been upgraded to perform maximally.
Mr. Ezeonu said the Imo INEC had embarked on the sensitisation tour of the 27 local government areas of the state because of the registration apathy of the people and to convince them of the importance of the PVCs.
He described the PVC as one of the most recognised and acceptable identification materials currently in the country.
Victor Nwokoabia, the Head of Election Planning and Monitoring in INEC, warned parties on commencing campaigns before time, stating that Section 94 and Section 95 of the Electoral Law as Amended, stipulated that parties must get police permission before starting campaigns and follow all electoral guidelines.
He said that INEC was also supposed to monitor such campaigns as well as the primaries to maintain peace and order.
Peter Okorie, the Electoral Officer in Ideato North LOcal Government area, said as the commission prepared for the 2019 elections, interactions with critical stakeholders would create opportunity to access current developments in the commission and re-strategise for the future.
He said the commission, by the meeting, had created an open door policy to reassure members of the public of their commitment toward delivering free and fair elections in 2019 in the state.
Mr. Okorie said INEC had so far registered 5,620 voters, comprising 3,107 male and 2,513 female since April 2017 in the local government area.
He said that before the CVR, the local government had 5,781 uncollected PVCs with only 126 currently collected leaving 5,655 unclaimed PVCs.
Chinedu Njoku, the Electoral Officer in Ideato South, described the INEC meeting with stakeholders as a confidence-building forum.
He said that since March 16, about 4,068 citizens of the local government had accessed INEC activities with 3,190 registrants (1869 males and 1321 females), 171 transfers (112 inter, 59 intra), 63 omissions and 327 card losses.
Arthur Egwim, a member of House of Assembly, representing Ideato Local Government and the Techinical Committee Charman of Ideato Local Government, Uche Onwuka, decried the registration apathy in the local government and commended INEC for the move.
They urged the commission to ensure the PVCs were released on time to the people to guide against having huge numbers still uncollected.
Pascal Obi, the Principal Secretary to the Imo Governor, Rochas Okorocha, and Getrude Oduka, the state Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education from Ideato South, expressed delight at the INEC meeting with the stakeholders.
They asked that political parties which had no structures should be delisted from INEC list to avoid confusion and called for proper training of the ad-hoc staff that would be used during the elections.