The Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC) has announced that it will commence the screening of candidates from all political parties participating in the upcoming local government election in the state next week. In addition, the commission revealed that it will recruit approximately 18,000 adhoc staff to assist in the smooth conduct of the polls.
The Chairman of OYSIEC, Isiaka Olagunju (SAN), made these disclosures during an appearance at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Correspondents’ Chapel guest platform program called “Speak Out” on Thursday. Olagunju confirmed that about 18 political parties have expressed interest in contesting the election and assured that the commission will collaborate with various security agencies such as the Police, Army, Department of State Services (DSS), and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to ensure a secure voting process.
However, Olagunju stated that the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN), popularly known as the Amotekun Corps, will not be involved in the election due to concerns of bias or potential electoral malpractice. He explained that the commission intends to engage the Police, Army, DSS, NSCDC, and even the Correctional Center to maintain security during the election.
Furthermore, Olagunju clarified that OYSIEC does not have the authority to develop a voters register. The commission is currently collaborating with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to obtain the voters register and information on polling units. The voters register will be displayed at all polling units in the state prior to the election.
In terms of voting methods, Olagunju revealed that OYSIEC will not adopt electronic voting through the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) used by INEC in previous general elections. He explained that the laws governing OYSIEC do not permit electronic voting. However, a bill has been submitted to the House of Assembly to allow for electronic voting, but no progress has been made on it yet. If the bill is passed before October, OYSIEC may consider electronic voting; otherwise, they will adhere to the voting methods allowed by their existing laws.
Olagunju emphasized that the local government election is crucial as it directly affects the grassroots level and allows the people to elect their leaders democratically. He assured that the commission is committed to ensuring that the choice of the people is reflected in the election results. Olagunju expressed confidence in his team’s ability to fulfill their mandate and leave a lasting legacy that sets a standard for the state and the country.
Unless there are any last-minute changes, the local government election is scheduled to take place in April 2024.