By Kehinde Ayantunji
Osun State Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr Olusegun Agbaje on Tuesday dismissed the rumour that Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme Cadets are being recruited as ad hoc staff for the conduct of the coming Presidential and National Assembly Elections.
The REC challenged political parties or individuals with such evidence to make it public and assured that the commission will immediately ensure the arrest and prosecution of such illegal ad hoc staff. He said the commission is using three categories of people as ad hoc staff which includes the corp members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), federal civil servants in the federal establishments in the state, academicians from federal institutions in the state, students of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile–Ife and Federal Polytechnic, Ede.
Agbaje said this while fielding questions from journalists at the programme tagged “The Frontiers” by the Association of Veteran Journalists, held at Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Centre, Osogbo.
He said, INEC has to a large extent perfected plans for the smooth conduct of the election and called on the politicians to cooperate with the commission and security agencies to ensure free, fair and acceptable election.
According to him, over 16,500 ad hoc staff would be deployed to all the 3,010 polling units and 753 voting points across the 30 local governments and development councils in the state.
The INEC boss explained that out of the 1,680,498 registered voters in the state, 1,260,748 have collected there Permanent Voters Card (PVC) while 419,182 PVC are uncollected as at the first week of February 2019.
He said, the commission will administer code of conduct oath for both regular and ad hoc staffs that will be participating in the election to let them understand that any form of compromise will not only lead to lost of job, or studentship, but will also face prosecution in line with existing electoral laws.
Agbaje assured the people of the state on the unbiased and neutrality of the commission in the conduct of the February 16 and March 2 general elections and appealed to politicians and other stakeholders to play according to the rule.
He said “As far as INEC is concern, we are much ready and prepare for the conduct of the election, we have concluded arrangement for hitch-free distribution of sensitive and non sensitive materials, and we are going to work with security agencies, media and both domestic and international observers to ensure proper accreditation by INEC to avoid any form of impersonations across the state.
“I just want to appeal to politicians with do or die culture to have a rethink, politicians are the one creating major problem for INEC with all manner of antics to compromise the process of any election, but INEC is equally up to the task, you are all reading in the media how internal affairs of political parties especially in respect to the conduct of primaries have become INEC problem because they could not agree within themselves”.
“We are not concern about who win the election but we have constitutional responsibility about the process, to be free, fair and acceptable, that is our covenant and we are already deploying both human and other resources provided by law to ensure the sanity of the process, we are aware that some INEC staffers or ad hoc staff may attempt to compromise the system, please do not hesitate to report and I can assure you that the commission will not shield anyone found of misconduct”, Agbaje said.
While responding to questions about his earlier statement to resign if the Supreme Court Nullifies Osun September 22, 2018, governorship election Agbaje maintained that he still stand by that statement with a clear conscience that the process was credible.
He said “ I consciously made the statement with a deep conviction, it’s not in anyway spontaneous, if you remember, it was included in my speech at that occasion, before and during the process the commission demonstrated transparency and provides a level playing ground for all political parties and we complied substantially with all extant laws, I am comfortable with the process and if the Supreme Court in its wisdom said otherwise, I am going to quit as REC”.