By Josephine Oguntoyinbo
Barely two weeks after fire gutted the Akure office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), it has replaced the 5,000 smart card readers destroyed in the inferno.
The smart card readers sourced from the Oyo State office of the commission have been received by the Akure office, The Hope has learnt.
The State Administrative Secretary, INEC, Mr James Popoola who dropped this hint in an exclusive interview with The Hope yesterday said the cards would be used for the October 10, governorship election in the state.
He affirmed that “the card readers from Oyo state office were already in Akure INEC office, they are being prepared for the October 10 gubernatorial election in the state. Over 5,000 card readers are here.With the numbers of card readers received, we are having more than enough.”
While saying that the commission is fully prepared for the election, he stated that all items mentioned in the time table released in February by INEC in preparation for the election have been accomplished.
“We have been receiving and dispatching non sensitive materials to the local government areas of the state and equally conducting trainings for critical stakeholders.
“As from today, (Wednesday) we will be training supervisory/ presiding officers who will next week train polling units officials. Also, all the statutory programmes have been implemented, therefore we are set,” he assured.
Popoola stressed that the commission would continue to monitor campaigns of the seventeen political parties participating in the election to ensure hitch free poll.
He assured that the smart card readers will be fully secured to prevent any untoward issue that can bring any hitch to the successful conduct of the election next month.
It would be recalled that INEC ordered for a transfer of smart card readers from its Oyo state office to Ondo state office last week.
INEC’s National Commissioner, Information and Voter Education, Mr Festus Okoye, had last week noted at a forum in Abuja that alternative plans the commission was putting in place for the Ondo election, given the destruction by fire of 5,141 smart card readers in its Ondo office was to transfer another card readers from its Oyo state office.
He said it was sad that the commission lost the 5,141 smart card, readers, in the inferno.
He, however, noted that the Ondo election was a stand-alone election, noting that the commission would move smart card readers from other state to conduct the election.
“We have given an order that all the smart card readers in Oyo state office should be moved to Ondo.
“And they have over 6,000 smart card readers in Oyo and so we are not going to have any problems reconfiguring them and using them for the elections.”
Okoye said the commission took the decision to move the smart card readers from other state to conduct the Ondo elections because of the long duration required to purchase a smart card.
According to him, the process of ordering one smart card reader takes at least six months, hence the decision to move smart card readers from other states.
He, however, said the commission was also looking at a more secured way of storing its smart card readers to avert any further destruction given the expensive nature of the cards.
“Because these smart card readers were bought with Nigeria’s taxpayer’s money we have a responsibility to make sure that we don’t waste the resources of this country.
“But we have recovered quickly and we are proceeding with the Ondo State election, nothing will stop the conduct of that election,” Okoye said.