Oluseye Ojo, Isan-Ekiti
British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Paul Arkwright, has said the conduct of the governorship election in Ekiti State has been peaceful so far.
In an interview with journalists at Ogilolo in Isan-Ekiti, he also said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was well prepared for the exercise, adding that the security agencies also composed themselves very well.
Arkwright, who is a member of the international observers, monitoring the election stated: “We have been to about five units so far. From the polling units that I have visited, they were peaceful. The system seems to be working. They opened on time from what I have seen.
“As observers, we are taking note and we will report back to INEC at the end of the day, giving our reports. We are neutral international observers, watching the process of trying to ensure that the exercise is free, fair, credible and indeed peaceful. So, let us see how it goes. We are very pleased to be able to be here.”
Arkwright also described the ongoing election as a precursor to the 2019 general elections in Nigeria, saying: “This election is an important milestone on the road to 2019. In Ekiti itself, it is important for the process to be free, fair, credible and indeed peaceful. We have looked around, and the most important thing is that people were able to express their own opinions to vote freely as they wished to vote, and not to be intimidated or induced in any way, to vote according to their conscience for what they think is best for them, for their families and for their communities.
“The International Bureau for the British Government is not supporting one candidate, we are not supporting one party. But we are supporting the process.”
Fielding questions on his assessment of INEC’s preparation for the poll, Arkwright said: “From what I saw, INEC prepared very well for the election. I spoke to the INEC Chairman in Abuja 10 days ago and he said the commission was well prepared. I spoke to the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) yesterday, and as far as I can see, the sensitive materials were sent to the polling units in time. From what I can see, things seem to be working well.
“We are not just staying in one particular area, there are British International Observers in every part of the state. When we combine together this evening, we will be comparing notes.”
Arkwright also assessed the conduct of security agencies in the places he had visited so far, saying: “From what I can see, the security agencies are doing their job. I can see the police standing by to ensure peace. In my experience and with what I have seen, this is a snapshot of the election. I will get the whole picture when I am back to the state capital and compare notes with my colleagues.” (The Sun)