2019 General Election: Things to look out for

It is no longer news that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC rescheduled the 2019 general election from Saturday 16th February and Saturday 2nd March 2019 to Saturday 23rd February 2019 and 9th of March 2019.

Despite the outcry of Nigerians against this postponement, INEC is still in line with the constitution as the constitution stipulates that elections should be held not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days to the end of the incumbent’s tenure.

In every political season such as this, every true Nigerian is expected to look out for 6 prominent order of events and he/she is expected to partake in them as much as he/she can as they are part of the fundamental rights of the citizenry of this country. Some of these events have already taken place while others will unfold during and after the election proper. These events are:

Continuous Voters Registration (CVR): this is an exercise meant for the registration of citizens who turned 18 years after the last registration exercise or those who for one reason or another could not register in the previous exercise.  This exercise commenced on Thursday 27th April 2017 and lasted till the 31st of August, 2018.

Collection of voters’ cards: Temporary Voters Cards (TVCs) will be issued to registrants at the point of registration. While Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) of those registered in Quarter 1 (Q1) would be due for collection in Quarter 3 (Q3) and Quarter 2 (Q2) will be issued in Quarter 4 (Q4). The last week of each quarter will be for display, hearing of claims and objections and housekeeping such as data backup, consolidation and reporting.

Political campaigns/political rallies: From the point, the electoral body opens the window for political campaigns; aspirants of different political parties will be seen travelling far and wide across the length and breadth of this country seeking for votes. Some of the heavyweight parties will organize concert-like rallies where their supporters will come to sing their praises and applaud them as they read out their political promises.

Voting Day: From the early hours of the 16th of February and the 2nd of March, the streets of Nigeria are expected to witness the lesser movement of people and more presence of security operatives. INEC ad-hoc staffs including Corp members and INEC electoral materials will be seen in some selected places where electorates are expected to come and vote for the candidates of their choice. These areas are tag polling booths and they will be the most secured areas in Nigeria for those two dates. 

Counting and collation: This is the point where all the votes cast from various polling booths are counted and taken to a collation centre for collation and preparation for the declaration of the results. Over 40 per cent of security resources in the country are often directed to those centres where others are scattered on the streets to keep the peace before, during and after the election. It is important to note here that electorates are not expected at these centres. Only the party agents, some selected INEC ad-hoc staff and some top security operatives are expected within the centres.

Announcement of Results:   this is the last phase of the whole process. The returning officers across the collation centres in the country will declare the outcome of the voting process and announce the eventual winner(s) of the election.

However, the votes cast for the presidential election across the states of the Federation are often taken to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) where the results from each state will be announced by its returning officer; subsequently, the INEC chairman will be given the honour to announce the eventual winner of the presidential election.

In conclusion, all these activities are not for some people, they are some of the constitutional rights of all Nigerians who have gotten to voting age of 18 and above. So, it is expected of all well-meaning Nigerians to troop out in mass to elect their candidates of choice without fear of intimidation. The security operatives who will be on duty on those election days are expected to be professional enough not to be seen as working in favour of one political party or the other; such an act will drastically lower the trust the electorates have on them and therefore rubbish the credibility of the results of the election.

Co-written by Azeez Victoria and Victor Ernest

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