The Federal Government has restated its resolve to ensure that the November 6 gubernatorial election is held in an atmosphere devoid of the fear of troublemakers, an apparent reference to the Indigenously People of Biafra (IPoB), which has threatened to shut down the state, if their leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, was not released by November 4.
But the effect of the fear of IPoB elements is already showing as reports claim tha less than two weeks to the election in Anambra State, some ad hoc workers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have declined to work.
The bus drivers usually used to dispatch materials to different centres have equally declined to join the exercise.
According to The Nation newspaper, though it could not reach the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji, a senior staff member of the commission confirmed the developmentwith adhoc staff and drivers.
It was learnt that the drivers and majority of the ad hoc workers already recruited said they were no longer interested in the job for fear of their lives.
But the National Security Adviser NSA, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Monguno, on Monday at a special meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security ICCES in Abuja said; “For those of us in security, we have already done most of what we are supposed to do.
“All the law enforcement agencies and security agencies have been charged to conduct themselves in a manner that will command the general widespread respect of all the people of Anambra state and, by extension, the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“They have been asked, charged to exhibit the highest level of professionalism, patience, perseverance, as well as self-restraint.
“We have been told to operate within the confines of the law, and not to go out and exhibit tendencies that would jeopardise this exercise.
“I want to reassure the general public that the security agencies are going to do everything within their power to ensure that the people of Anambra State undergo this exercise without any incident.
“In the same vein, I want to offer a word of brotherly advice to our brothers and sisters in Anambra State who may want to use means, methods that are unorthodox and that are unusual to destabilise an already delicate situation, to please think again.
“We are all eager to achieve results in this election that will be acceptable to everybody.
“I don’t think it will be helpful for anyone to go out and ignite something that might cause pain for the good people of Anambra State — the peace-loving people — under whatever guise.
“Please, think again because the law enforcement agencies, in as much as we will operate in accordance with the requirements of their profession, will not sit by idly and allow people to start looting, destroying public property, and resorting to not just intimidation, terrorising people, possibly arson and even homicide.
“This will not be accepted.
“Law enforcement agencies have been asked to watch out for such elements. Because what you start, you don’t know how it will end.
“There is no need embarking on an exercise of self delusion, futility or some form of tangle.
“Please, I am appealing to you, we are all brothers. Stay within your wards, your local government and let us have a peaceful election.
“For the security agencies in the wards, any rogue element that decides to behave in a manner that will tar our collective institutions in very dark colour will be brought to justice in accordance with the rules of those institutions.
“Do not do anything that will harm this process.
“Finally, I want to encourage agents of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
“I know you have gone through a lot of pain, a lot of losses with your colleagues from the Nigeria Police Force and other agencies, do not allow what has happened in the past to dampen your spirits.
“Do not allow it to drive you into a state of lethargy. Please continue to support the leadership of INEC and let us get this job this job done.”
INEC had, between May and early June, announced the increment of polling units in Anambra State, which used to be 4,608, to 5,720.
Besides, the commission announced that it would require about 10,000 ad hoc workers for the election to be a success.
Few days ago, IPOB issued a statement through its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, that if its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, is not released on November 4, it would declare another sit-at-home in Igbo land between November 5 and 10.
If the pro-Biafra group succeeds, it would disrupt the conduct of the November 6 governorship election in Anambra State.
Besides, President Muhammadu Buhari had, on Saturday, declared that nothing would stop the conduct of Anambra State governorship election.
Also, Governor Willie Obiano had promised that nothing would stop the November 6 poll.
Obiano spoke in Awka, the state capital, through his Information and Public Enlightenment Commissioner C. Don Adinuba.
But the INEC source, who spoke with The Nation yesterday in Awka, regretted that the commission was facing a serious challenge ahead of the election.
The source said: “That is our situation now. Nothing seems to be working for us in this election because no one wants to lose his or her life because of IPOB.
“It is a big challenge facing us. Many of the ad hoc workers already recruited are throwing in the towel because of the IPOB threats; even the drivers, who we always use to distribute the materials.
“All of them contacted, told us they are not interested. So, our hands are tied. These people called IPOB have really dealt with the people of the Southeast.
“If nothing is done urgently, the election we’ve been preparing for, for so long a time may not hold; even if it holds, who is prepared to risk his or her life to come out?”
▪︎Additional reports by The Nation