By Douglas Okoro
Prof. Godswill Obioma, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Resident Electoral Commissioner in Ebonyi, has reiterated the commitment of the commission to conduct credible, transparent and violence-free elections in Ebonyi.
Obioma spoke on Wednesday in Abakaliki, at a stakeholders forum held at the INEC headquarters.
The forum according to Obioma, is the last in series of stakeholders meetings designed by the commission to update stakeholders on activities preparatory for the smooth conduct of the 2019 general elections.
Obioma informed the forum that all was set for the conduct of presidential, national assembly, governorship and state houses of assembly elections slated for Feb. 16 and March 2.
He reassured the electorate that the commission remained non-partisan, neutral and was committed to conducting free, transparent and credible elections in Ebonyi.
“We will not only conduct free, fair and credible elections, but we will be seen to have conducted an election that meets international best standard.
“All votes that are legitimately cast would be counted, while votes that are not properly cast would not be counted, and we will not award votes won by any candidate to another candidate.
“We are going to be bound by the oaths which we have sworn to uphold the integrity of the elections and to maintain high ethical standard in our conduct.
“We assure the people of Ebonyi that INEC under our watch in Ebonyi will ensure that all votes must count in the elections.
“We have seamlessly recruited and trained over 13,000 ad-hoc staff to serve in various categories of the INEC ad-hoc duties in the elections”, Obioma said.
He implored all registered voters in the state who were yet to collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to do so before the Feb. 8 deadline, adding that 199,000 PVCs, were yet to be collected.
He appealed to politicians and candidates of the various political parties to avoid the use of hate speeches and other inflammatory remarks during their campaigns to avoid heating the polity.
The resident commissioner also cautioned against vote buying and selling and appealed to the stakeholders to sensitise their people against trading with their PVCs.
Obioma further urged the electorate to vote properly to reduce the incidence of rejected or invalid votes.
He said that people without right thumbs would be allowed to thumb print on the ballot paper with the left thumb, while those without both thumbs would use the right big toe to vote.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the interactive stakeholders forum was attended by town union leaders, traditional rulers, students bodies, Civil Society Organisations, security agencies, leaders of registered political parties, among others.
NAN also reports that representatives of the European Union (EU) election observer teams were present at the meeting.