Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has said expressed the commission's readiness for the 2019 elections.
He said this on Wednesday when he received a delegation from the European Union (EU), United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA) at the Abuja headquarters of the commission.
He reassured the international community and Nigerians that the elections would be credible, free, fair and transparent.
The INEC boss also stressed that he will ensure that the processes lead to the outcome that all Nigerians expect and the election will be error-free, as the commission will jealously guard the processes.
His words: “We are good to go for the 2019 general election. We are aware that the election is going to be an intense media event, but only that international community will also intensely watch the processes as they have always done and I want to assure you that we will not fail the international community and will not fail the nation.
“We are aware that the long term EU observation mission is on ground, and also the ECOWAS observation mission, so the international community is already in Nigeria for the elections.
“The 2019 elections will be credible. We will jealously guard the processes; we will ensure that the processes lead to the outcome that all Nigerians expect. Nothing but free, fair, credible elections will be good enough for the commission.”
He reiterated that “votes will count in the 2019 general election. We are ready for a free, fair and transparent process, such that will confirm the position of Nigeria in the international community as a nation that conducts credible elections. 2015 was not a fluke; it was a product of deliberate planning and 2019 is going to be the same.”
Briefing his guests on the preparations made so far by the commission ahead of the elections, he said: “We are at the moment putting finishing touches to our preparation for the elections. The first election will hold on 16th February with the presidential and National Assembly, and the second election will hold on the 2nd of March, which are the state elections (the governorship, State Assembly elections, and the election into area councils in the Federal Capital Territory.
“All the heavy items for the elections are being procured in addition to ballot boxes, voting cubicles, replacement smart card readers. The Permanent Voter Cards have also been delivered to the states for collection by citizens.”
According to Yakubu, the commission has been recruiting and will soon commence training for the ad hoc staff for the elections.
In his comments, David Young, Charge D’Affairs of the US Embassy in Abuja, spoke on the expected neutrality of the security agencies during the elections.
He stressed the need for INEC to stick to their role of protecting the electorate and ballot materials and avoid any form of interference with the voting process.
“I would want to express the concern that we have and that is the neutrality of the security services. For us, it is very important in the ongoing season that the security services are very smart, provide security for the elections and security in the safety of the process.
“It should be done in such a way that it does not interfere with people getting to the polls, and poll watchers, civil society organisations and others should have access to ensure the voting goes freely both on February 16th and March 2nd.
“This is something we have been deliberating strongly about. The neutrality of the security services is one of the very important issues for credible elections.”
Young also spoke on the need for better synergy among the three arms of government, saying that the executive, legislature and judiciary are crucial to democracy.
"I also want to say that we appreciate very much the important the role judiciary plays in Nigeria," he added.