The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has extended voting time by number of lost hours at polling units that experienced delay in the commencement of polls across the country.
Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner, and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, said this while addressing a press conference on the commission’s monitoring of the nationwide election from its situation room.
Polls were scheduled to open at 8 a.m. and close by 2 p.m., with the last person on the queue as at the closing time allowed to vote.
According to Okoye, the report from the INEC Election Monitoring Support Centre (EMSC) said the commission recorded 100 per cent opening of polling units as at noon and over 90 per cent in some states.
He said that the commission recorded 100 percent opening of polls in Ekiti, Katsina, Kebbi, Ogun, and Osun as at noon, 99.35 per cent in Niger; Adamawa, 34; Akwa-Ibom, 64, Anambra, 90; and Bauchi-49.3 percent.
Bayelsa -29, Borno – 35, Cross River – 93, Delta – 32, Ebonyi – 35.5, Edo – 97, Enugu – 61, FCT – 73, Gombe – 62, Imo – 0.98, Jigawa – 68, Kaduna – 57, Kano – 0.18, Kogi – 91, Kwara – 96, Lagos – 64, Nasarawa – 58, Osun -35, Plateau – 40, Rivers – No report, Sokoto- 33, Taraba – 69, Yobe- 69, Zamfara – 41.
“What the commission has decided is that in any of the states where polls opened at 9 a.m. there will be an extension of one hour.
” In any place where poll opened at 10 a.m., there will be an extension of two hours and it progresses that way.
“We are in touch with all the Resident Electoral commissioners (RECs), Electoral Officers in almost all the Local Governments, in relation to some of the problems or challenges they have while polls could not open on time.”
This, according to him, was to give eligible voters who turned out en masse, the opportunity to cast their vote.
Okoye listed some of the challenges to include security, malfunctioning of Smart Card Readers and late arrival of the members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) which signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the INEC on transportation of election materials.
He, however, said that in all the places where the commission needed to replace card readers and electoral officers, the replacement had been done.
“In other places where there are a few challenges in relation to the smart card readers verifying or authenticating, all members of the technical support staff that have been posted to all the registration areas are already addressing some of these issues.
”We are confident that as we progress before the close of polls, most of these issues would have been identified and rectified, ” he said.
Fielding questions, Okoye said that the commission in planning for the elections anticipated some of the challenges and was prepared to resolve them as they arrived.
He disclosed that those states where there where challenges regarding to results sheets had been addressed.
“In some places the presiding officers guarded the result sheets jealously in order to avoid it falling into wrong hands.
“In some places some political parties insisted that they must see the result sheets before they can leave the registration areas to polling units.
“In some of the polling units they insisted they must see all the materials before election can start.”
On report that some of the card readers read that voting has been concluded, Okoye said that the commission received such malfunction record and that it had been addressed.
The commissioner said that INEC was pleased to report that the Smart Card Reader proved its functionality and efficiency by successfully authenticating all Presidential Candidates among millions of other Voters within a short time at their respective polling units across the country.
Okoye advised eligible voters to use the extended time to cast their votes, while advising Nigerians to use hotlines displayed on the television to send their complaints to the situation room.
Okoye also promised to brief journalists after the close of polls.
The presidential and National Assembly elections held at 119,973 polling units across the country, while collation of results will take place in 8,809 Registration Areas or Wards, 774 Local Government Areas, 36 States and the FCT.
Of the 84,004,084 registered voters nationwide, 72,775,502 , representing 86.63 per cent who have collected Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) are eligible to participate in the elections. About 11.23 million or 13. 7 per cent will not participate because they failed to collect their PVCs.