By G9ija

The National Peace Committee (NPC) led by a former military Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd.) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure free, fair, credible and peaceful governorship poll in Ondo State.

The electoral body has, however, reassured the people of Ondo State that their votes will count in Saturday’s election.

The NPC, in a statement signed by Abdulsalami, called on every stakeholder in the October 10, 2020 election to live up to the principles of impartiality, neutrality and statesmanship.

The Peace Committee particularly urged the candidates, the security agencies, the INEC, the civil societies, the traditional rulers and the citizens of Ondo State to support the peace process in the state.

The NPC recalled its role in the 2015 and 2019 elections, including the just-concluded Edo State Governorship Election, urging electoral stakeholders in the state to support the committee in ensuring a peaceful election.

“To navigate Nigeria’s political landscape is tough, and to contribute to free, fair and credible elections is even more complex. Since 2015, and in line with its mandate, the National Peace Committee (NPC), has supported and contributed immensely to peaceful elections in Nigeria.

“The period immediately preceding the 2015 general elections, Nigeria was rife with speculations that the elections would lead to the country’s ultimate disintegration. The committee worked tirelessly to support peaceful elections and facilitate a non-violent transfer of power. In the same vein, the political process leading up to the 2019 elections created severe fears and concerns. Once again, the convening power of the National Peace Committee was called upon for intervention. The committee not only supported peaceful elections at the national level in 2019 but extended its commitment to support peaceful governorship elections in Adamawa, Kano, Benue, Sokoto, Gombe, Bauchi and Plateau states.

“The efforts of the committee culminated in its contribution to the success of the governorship election in Edo State. It is for this reason that all the members of the Peace Committee are committed to supporting a free, fair, credible and peaceful election in Ondo State. The Peace Committee, therefore, calls on all stakeholders, the candidates, the security agencies, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the civil societies, the traditional rulers and the citizens of Ondo State to support the peace process in the State. Every stakeholder should live up to the principles of impartiality, neutrality and statesmanship,” the NPC explained.

The NPC further urged everyone participating in the election to abide by the COVID-19 regulations and keep the process safe during the election.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, yesterday assured stakeholders and voters in Ondo State that their voters will count in the October 10 governorship election.
According to the INEC chairman, “Our commitment is to ensure that the choice of who becomes the next Governor of Ondo State is entirely in the hands of the voters. I wish to assure all eligible voters that every vote will count and only the choice made by the people of Ondo State will determine the outcome of the election.

“I want to assure political parties and candidates that we will remain focused on our processes and procedures. Let me reiterate to all stakeholders that the commission will not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate.”

Yakubu said that the Commission has reviewed the last Governorship election in Edo State, adding, “we are determined to continue improving on our performance.

“For this reason, we identified 16 areas of improvement, including logistics, prompt response to Smart Card Reader glitches on Election Day, the menace of vote buying during elections and compliance with COVID-19 protocols. In response, we have engaged with land and maritime transport owners for forward and reverse logistics to and from land and riverine locations.

“We have engaged additional 104 Registration Area Technical Support (RATECHS) staff to respond rapidly to issues with Card Readers on Election Day. We had useful discussions with the security agencies and anti-corruption agencies on how to deal with vote-buying during elections. Working with health authorities, we will continue to enforce safety measures at polling units, including the compulsory wearing of face masks and the provision of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as hand sanitizers and infra-red thermometers at polling locations and collation centres.

“On this note, I would like to appeal to all election officials, transport providers, polling agents, election observers and the media to ensure compliance with the advisory by health authorities. Voting in safety is a critical component of elections in the era of COVID-19 pandemic,” Yakubu stated.