As the zero hour ticks for the commencement of the November 18 governorship election in Anambra state, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says it is 99 percent ready to conduct the crucial election.
This is even as residents of the state say they are ready to exercise their franchise to determine who government them for the next four years.
Awka, the state capital, is now a beehive of activities. Commercial activities are also at their peak everywhere, including the state office of INEC, located on Ekweme road, Aroma, a stone-throw distance from the central bank.
Operators of commercial motorcycles are also making brisk business as they have increased their fares by about 100 percent, especially for the visitors.
The not too big state capital is already getting over stretched, with thousands of visitors, comprising of security agents, journalists and both local and international observers who have flocked the city.
Getting a hotel accommodation is a herculean task, as most of the hotels in the town have been fully booked by the government agencies involved in the conduct of the election.
This reporter spent close to two hours riding on commercial motorcycles, in search of a hotel accommodation.
Speaking in an interview on their preparedness for the conduct of the election, the Head of Voter Education and Publicity of INEC in the state, Mr. Leo Nkedife, said the commission is ready to go.
“About three weeks ago, we finished distribution of non-sensitive materials to all local government areas, and today, we collected the sensitive materials from the Central Bank of Nigeria and we shared them among the LGAs. They are equally collecting the Card Readers with ballot papers and the result sheets, they have equally collected the lists of their adhoc staff.
“Presently, some of the officers are loading while some others are already on their way to their respective destinations. All that remains now is for the d-day to come for people to come out and exercise their franchise. We are 99 percent ready to conduct the Anambra state gubernatorial election,” he said.
Commenting on distribution of materials for the conduct of the election, Nkedife said priority was accorded to local government areas that were far away and those more difficult to access.
He also said they have made every adequate and necessary arrangements, including procuring mobilities for both regular and adhoc staff to enable them get to their respective voting locations early on Saturday.
“We started giving out the materials first to those LGAs that are very far away, so that they will arrive earlier that the others. In the same vein, we’ve made provisions for areas that are riverine in Anambra West, Anambra East and environs.
“We have hired boats to enable them move, motorbikes and even bicycles for all these special terrains. We have even granted them permission to move their materials ahead of others so that they can get their on time, because some of them need to cross the river.
“The (INEC) chairman’s word is that every polling boot must open by 8 am. We have almost established registration area centres, what we call RAC, in every ward. It is a kind of mini administrative office. Our men and materials will sleep their on the eve of the election so that it will be easy for them to track to their respective polling units.
“We have trained our staff, they are all very conversant with what they are expected to do,” Nkedife said.
Also, all adjourning roads leading to the office have been cordoned off, with Armour Personnel Carriers (APCs), positioned at strategic locations.
Residents who spoke to this medium said they were ready to go to polls on Saturday to cast their votes. They said they were not deterred by the sit-at-home order issued by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
One of the respondents who gave his name as Uche Elugwe, said he count it as a privilege to be part of those who would use their votes to determine who rules the state.
“I thank God that am alive to be part of this exercise. We are not disturbed by the threat of IPOB. I will go out on Saturday to cast my vote to elect my Governor,” he said.