Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A brave man in Labasa


from Fiji Times
Naivalu: I had no time to grieve
Thursday, May 18, 2006

A KEY election official told yesterday of how he had no time to grieve for his wife who died the day after polling began because he was committed to his job.

Misieli Naivalu, the Commissioner Northern and returning officer for the Northern Division said his national duties and responsibilities were more important.

He said his wife died while he was at work on Sunday evening waiting for feedbacks from polling stations on the first day of voting.

Mr Naivalu said the writ to conduct the elections in the division was signed by the President, Ratu Josefa Iliolo and there was no way in which he could walk away.

He paid tribute to his senior officers saying the election in the division would have collapsed had he not received their support.

Divisional secretary Vishwa Deo was the Electoral Officer although the post required a senior administration officer.

Mr Naivalu said Ilisapeci Natau, a trainer from the Elections Office, also stood by his side and took over a lot of responsibilities.

He said while Mr Deo looked after all the operations and logistics, Mrs Natau streamlined the administration work and continuously liaised with the Elections Office.

During the counting process Mr Deo and Mrs Natau were seen in a lot of rooms where the process was a bit slow or there were a lot of voters.

They stepped in to start the process and when the counting picked momentum they returned to the operations room.

Mr Naivalu said seeing Mr Deos initiative he had recommended that he be given the acting senior administration officers post so that he could be the Electoral Officer for the division.

He said without Mrs Nataus experience, there would have been a lot of hiccups and counting would have dragged onto Wednesday morning.

Mr Naivalu said while the credit goes to all the presiding officers, their assistants and the officials, he had to mention names and give credit where it was due.

He said Mr Deo and Mrs Natau worked around the clock with him only going home to either shower or to see family members.

The nurses pulled me out on Monday and told me to rest in the room they were using, he said.

My blood pressure was normal but they said I was very exhausted and needed to sleep for an hour.

I think this is the only rest I received and the same goes for the other two officials.

Their presence was needed around the clock and they understood their responsibility.

He said polling and counting in the division was a team effort and a learning experience for everyone.

Mr Naivalu said his relatives had slowly started gathering at his home for the funeral on Saturday.

He said life had to move on and when there was a calling by the nation to serve there should be no excuses.

Divisional police commander, Superintendent Anand Narayan said 250 officers were involved in polling and counting.

He said they did 12 hour shifts to ensure the process was trouble-free.

SP Narayan thanked the officers saying some of them had spent days away from home.

He said support from members of the public, village heads and chiefs helped see through a smooth election process.

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