By Adekola Afolabi
The Ondo State Independent Electoral Commission (ODIEC) has released guidelines for the conduct of elections into the chairmanship and councillorship positions across the 18 Local Government Areas of the state.
The Chairman of ODIEC, Professor Yomi Dinakin, who released the guidelines at a stakeholders’ meeting and formal presentation of itinerary for the elections held at the ODIEC headquarters in Akure, the Ondo state capital, announced December 1, this year for the conduct of the council polls.
Prof. Dinakin expressed the readiness of the Commission to conduct free, fair, credible, transparent and peaceful polls, just as he assured all political parties in the elections of a level playing ground and advised them to play the game according to the rules devoid of violence.
He ruled out the possible usage of card readers machines for the conduct of the polls, saying the commission will only use manual voting system but will work with the state INEC to get the lists of registered political parties, voters and polling units across the state for smooth conduct of the elections.
According to the 2018 ODIEC guidelines, each chairmanship aspirants is expected to pay a non-refundable sum of N50, 000 as nomination fee, while those seeking councillorship position will pay nomination fee of N20, 000.
Prof Dinakin said conduct of party primaries by political parties will hold between August 28 and September 6, the same period for collection of form CF001 (affidavit/personal particulars of candidates and Form CF002(party’s list of candidates) for chairmanship/councillorship election.Thursday August 23 is fixed for the commencement of campaign by political parties, while September 17 is the last day for submission of Form CF001 and CF002 for Chairmanship and Councillorship polls.
Publication of personal particulars of candidates (CF001) is fixed for September 24. Collection of Form EC4(Nomination Forms) by political parties will come up between September 24 and September 28. Also, verification of candidates is slated for October 2, just as the last day for withdrawal/replacement of candidate(s) by parties is on October 9, while publication of personal particulars of substituted candidate(s) , if any, will come up on October 16.
Similarly, closing date for the submission Nomination Forms by political parties is fixed for October 17, and publication of list of validated candidates will hold by October 18, while display of voters register for the elections at Ward/Collation Centres is scheduled for October 22 to October 25. Publication of notice of polls is slated to hold between October 30 and November 2, just as submission of names of party agents to the commission is to hold between October 30 and November 8.
Equally, pasting of list of Ad-hoc staff at Area Offices/LGs is from November 9 to November 22, and last day for campaigns is November 22 , while the elections will hold on Saturday December 1.
The ODIEC boss refuted the insinuations that the commission will be tele-guided by the state government to conduct the polls in favour of the ruling party, emphasising that the commission will maintain its independence and credibility throughout.
He also used the occasion to encourage everybody who is 18-year and above and has not registered for PVC to go and do so in the ongoing INEC Continuous Voter’s Registration (CVR) exercise and collect their Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC), saying this will enable them exercise their franchise in the forthcoming council polls and other elections in the country.
“We are going to be conducting voters’ education so that everybody who wants to participate will know what he or she is supposed to do at every point of the election. We are going to be transparent in everything we do with respect to this election. You, the stakeholders too must be ready to ask questions when you are in doubt.
“We also urge you to mobilise your people in an orderly manner so that we can consolidate our democracy in this country. Let us educate ourselves, this is not a do-or-die affair. Let us eschew violence. Let us encourage our people to actively participate, and to participate in accordance with the rules. Once you follow the rules devoid of acrimony, devoid of violence then it will be successful,” he stressed.
He appealed to political parties and other relevant stakeholders in the electoral process including traditional rulers, media practitioners, religious leaders, security agencies and the electorate to support the commission at it set out for free, fair, credible and hitch-free polls.
Other ODIEC Commissioners present at the meeting are Dr. Tajudeen Ibraheem, Dr. Tunde Adeleye, Dr. Soji Omowole, Barrister Dele Akinyelure, Barrister Rotimi Olorunfemi, Mrs Stella Omotoso and the Administrative Secretary to the Commission, Mr. Wole Ayeni. Electoral Officers, political parties, media practitioners, security agents, among others also attended the meeting.
Some of chairmen of political parties who spoke at the event expressed their readiness for peaceful polls but called on the commission to reduce the nomination fee by 50 percent.