In the lead-up to the highly anticipated governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi states on November 11, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed concern over the failure of political parties to comply with the submission of their list of agents. Despite multiple notices and reminders, the majority of parties have yet to upload the necessary information onto the designated INEC portal.
The Commission had notified all political parties about the opening of its online portal for the upload of the list of polling units and collation center agents, starting on August 24, 2023. It also engaged with party representatives to ensure a seamless process.
According to Sam Olumekun, the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee, only 55% of the expected total of 189,180 polling unit agents have been uploaded to the portal. The breakdown is as follows: 29,278 out of 40,372 agents for Bayelsa State (72.5%); 51,681 out of 85,644 agents for Imo State (60.3%); and 23,720 out of 63,144 agents for Kogi State (37.6%).
Furthermore, only 25.1% of the expected 15,804 collation agents in the three states have been uploaded. The figures stand at 1,246 out of 4,806 agents for Bayelsa State (26.0%); 1,638 out of 5,994 agents for Imo State (27.3%); and 1,095 out of 5,004 agents for Kogi State (21.9%).
These numbers indicate a concerning lack of compliance from political parties, as they have failed to meet the submission deadline. In light of this, Olumekun reminded parties that the portal will automatically shut down at 12:00 midnight on October 10, 2023.
The failure to submit the list of agents in a timely manner has raised questions about the preparedness of political parties for the upcoming governorship elections. The role of agents is crucial in ensuring transparency and accountability during the electoral process. They act as representatives of the parties at polling units and collation centers, monitoring the proceedings and reporting any irregularities.
Without a sufficient number of agents, there is a risk of compromised election integrity. The low submission rates in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi states are particularly concerning, as they indicate a lack of commitment from political parties to uphold the democratic principles of free and fair elections.
In order to address this issue, INEC has urged political parties to expedite the submission of their agent lists. The Commission has provided an online portal specifically for this purpose, making it convenient and accessible for parties to comply with the requirements. However, the lack of compliance thus far suggests a need for increased awareness and enforcement of the submission deadline.
As the clock ticks down to the governorship elections, it is imperative that political parties fulfill their responsibilities and ensure the presence of agents at every polling unit and collation center. This is not only a requirement set by INEC but also a fundamental aspect of a functioning democracy.
The upcoming elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi states are of great significance, as they will determine the leadership and direction of these states for the next four years. It is essential that the electoral process is conducted with integrity and transparency, allowing the will of the people to be accurately reflected in the results.
The role of INEC in facilitating a fair and credible electoral process cannot be overstated. The Commission has a responsibility to ensure that all parties adhere to the rules and regulations governing the elections. By enforcing the submission deadline for agent lists, INEC is taking a proactive step towards safeguarding the integrity of the upcoming polls.
As the deadline for submission approaches, political parties must prioritize their obligations and act in the best interest of democracy. The presence of agents at polling units and collation centers is crucial in upholding the principles of transparency and accountability. It is imperative that parties comply with the submission requirements set by INEC and demonstrate their commitment to a fair and credible electoral process.
With just a few weeks left until the governorship elections, the eyes of the nation are on Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi states. The outcome of these elections will have far-reaching implications for the political landscape of Nigeria. It is essential that all stakeholders, including political parties, INEC, and the electorate, work together to ensure a smooth and successful electoral process.
As the deadline for agent list submission looms, political parties must act swiftly and responsibly. The future of these states and the credibility of the electoral process are at stake. It is time for parties to rise to the occasion and demonstrate their commitment to democracy.