A political think tank group, Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts, said on Thursday that the Independent National Electoral Commission should ensure competency and integrity tests on all ad hoc staff to be deployed for the forthcoming elections.
While expressing fears that politicians would want to infiltrate the ad hoc staff list to use the workers to manipulate elections, the organisation also stated that following its observation of the Osun State governorship election, the confusion that characterised the state some months later after were as a result of poor handling of the Bimodal Voter Registration System by ad hoc staff of INEC.
The ad hoc staff, it said, should be selected and vetted through a rigorous process in order to avoid a similar Osun debacle.
Governor Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party was declared the winner of the governorship poll held on July 16, 2022.
But his predecessor, Adegboyega Oyetola, of the All Progressives Congress, claimed that there was over-voting in 749 polling units across 10 local government areas of the state.
Their argument was upheld by the Election Petition Tribunal and Oyetola was consequently declared the winner of the election.
But at a press conference in Abuja, the Director of the ASSPT, Dr. Sam Amadi, said there was no over-voting in the election in the “typical sense.”
According to him, the technology requires good personnel management to ensure the success of BVAS.
He said, “The real failure in the Osun election was not BVAS. It was the personnel that managed the BVAS. As a matter of fact, there was no over-voting in Osun in the typical sense. What happened in Osun was a very costly oversight of a Presiding Officer, Supervisory Presiding Officers and INEC officers.
“There was a practical failure in the implementation of section 60 (4) and (5) of the Electoral Act. The relevant officers ought to be vigilant and ensure that the BVAS accreditation results were fully loaded before ending the process.
“Even when the losers in the election demanded the report of the BVAS, relevant INEC officials should have ensured that the full report was sent, or if there was extreme urgency, they would have accompanied it with a letter to indicate its interim nature. All these failures reinforce the critical importance of the technical and ethical competencies of persons who will supervise elections in 2023.
“We have moved to the stage where it matters about the quality and character of those who manage technology on election day. I make two important recommendations to INEC: The commission should be careful in selecting ad hoc staff. In requesting staff of sister agencies, INEC should not take any list from such agencies except the nominal list backed up by recent salary slips to verify that those persons are real staff members of the agencies.
“We fear that politicians will like to infiltrate the ad hoc staff list to use the staff to manipulate elections. INEC has to ensure that these ad hoc staff are selected and vetted through a rigorous process in order to avoid the Osun debacle on a large scale in presidential and governorship elections. Imagine the crisis we will have if Osun happens on a large scale in a highly competitive presidential election where the incentive for violence will be very high.”