By Kingsley Omose
Over 120,000 polling stations across 774 LGAs in 36 States and FCT with 79 presidential candidates on the ballot, the opportunities for strategizing towards February 16, 2019, are very stimulating.
Think of it, if all the 79 presidential candidates on the ballot for the February 16, 2019 election decide to have at least a polling agent in each of the 120,000 polling stations on voting day, that will mean 9,480,000 polling agents in total.
If you go on to add all the 79 presidential candidate agents needed (minimum of 2) at INEC vote collation centres at 774 LGAs, 36 States and FCT, that comes to another 128, 296 required to monitor collation of votes.
On INEC’s part, focusing on just 3, being the minimum number of polling officials required in each of the 120,000 polling stations across Nigeria, that will come down to at least 360, 000 polling officials required on February 16, 2019.
As for security agents, let’s start with the police whose combined strength is 400, 000 and if you take out those on VIP guard duty (150,000) and those on essential and administrative duties, the police will be hard pressed to find minimum of 2 policemen/women (240,000) to be stationed in each of the 120, 000 polling stations across Nigeria.
Still on security agents, the Nigerian military has a total personnel strength of 181, 000 (Global Fire Power) with only 124, 000 available for active service, so when you take away the numbers deployed in the war against Boko Haram, cattle bandits, herdsmen/farmers operations and various security operations across 34 of 36 States, how many are available for polling duty on February 16 , 2019?
Even if push comes to shove and all 400,000 police personnel and 181, 000 military personnel can be deployed on election related duties on February 16, 2019, how many of this combined 581, 000 personnel can be posted to each of the 120, 000 polling station across the country on election day?
INEC will also be registering various local civil society organisations and foreign observers representing foreign missions in Nigeria and outside Nigeria, who will be monitoring polling on February 16, 2019, together with the local and foreign news media and of course the social media online monitors.
But the most significant factor in the February 16, 2019 polls are the 86, 627, 104 INEC registered voters as at August 2018, their collective resolve and determination, and what they do on that day will not only determine who emerges victorious among the 79 presidential candidates but also regulate the atmosphere of the polls.
Politics is war by other means so the February 16, 2019 polls will display for all to see what each of the other 78 presidential candidates excluding President Buhari, will bring to bear in tackling the myriad challenges facing Nigeria from rising insecurity across the land, to an economy in the doldrums with unemployment at stratospheric levels, and collapsing and inadequate infrastructure to mention but a few.
Kingsley Omose is a lagos based legal practitioner and public policy Analyst