The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reiterated its unwavering commitment to conducting a credible governorship election in Edo State on September 19th, despite the recent setback caused by flood damage to its facilities in Benin City.

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Addressing the issue during an inspection visit, INEC Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu assured that the Commission would leverage resources from neighboring states to ensure a hitch-free exercise.

“Let me use this opportunity to assure and reassure Edo voters that it is unfortunate that this incident happened in our office on Friday,” Yakubu stated. “We took proactive measures to ensure the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) was not affected by calling for additional resources from neighboring states.”

The INEC chief emphasized that being an off-cycle election, the Commission has the flexibility to borrow equipment and personnel from other states to augment its capabilities in Edo. “Since INEC is one national body, and we are only going to have two elections in Edo and Ondo States, I will call for additional resources where necessary from neighboring states, and the elections will proceed as scheduled,” he affirmed.

Yakubu’s remarks came as the Commission assessed the extent of the damage caused by last Friday’s torrential downpour, which inundated its facilities in Benin City. Accompanied by senior INEC officials and representatives from relevant government agencies, the Chairman ruled out relocating the facilities, citing the logistical challenges of doing so close to the election.

“There is no immediate plan to relocate. We believe we can fix the affected areas before the election, and it is better to conduct the poll in our own facilities rather than renting external ones,” he explained.

While the full cost of the damage is still being evaluated, Yakubu assured that necessary repairs would be carried out expeditiously to ensure seamless operations.

Significantly, the INEC boss dispelled concerns over the CVR exercise, noting the encouraging turnout for both new registrations and transfers. However, he did not commit to extending the registration period, stating, “We have not reached there yet. We will go round and see what happens.”

As INEC doubles down on preparations, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has unveiled a high-powered 144-member National Campaign Council to spearhead its efforts in the Edo polls. The council, chaired by Adamawa State Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, includes prominent figures like former Vice Presidents Atiku Abubakar and Namadi Sambo, as well as PDP governors and the party’s Board of Trustees chairman.

The inauguration of the council, scheduled for June 4th in Abuja, underscores the PDP’s resolve to wrestle control of the strategic South-South state from the incumbent All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.

With the two major parties gearing up for an intense electoral battle, all eyes are now on INEC to deliver on its constitutional mandate of conducting free, fair, and credible polls in Edo. The Commission’s ability to surmount logistical hurdles and ensure a level playing field will be crucial in determining the outcome and legitimacy of this high-stakes gubernatorial contest.