From left: INEC National Commissioners, Prof. Okechukwu Obinna Ibeanu; Mohammed Kudu Haruna; and
Ahmad Tijani Mu’azu, take their oath of office at the Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday
Those sworn in were Mohammed Kudu Haruna (North-central), retired AVM Ahmed Tijani Mu’azu (North-east), Abubakar Nahuche (North-west), Professor Okechukwu Ibeano (South-east); May Agbamuche Mbu (South-south) and Dr Adekunle Ladipo Ogunmola (South-west).
The electoral body said with the swearing in of the 6 national commissioners, it was hopeful that the vacancies in the states would equally be filled soonest.
INEC spokesman, Nick Dazang, told Daily Trust yesterday that Administrative Secretaries of the commission now run the affairs of the electoral body in states without RECs.
“Whenever there are elections, the RECs in other states are deployed to offer assistance. We really need the substantive RECS to drive the process because their presence would not only add value but also strengthen the process,” he said.
Dazang said only Adamawa, Bayelsa, Delta, Kaduna, Niger, Ondo, Rivers, Taraba, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have RECs.
He however said that their absence does not necessarily adversely affect the activities of the commission in the affected states as the Administrative Secretaries who are the most senior officers have taken charge.
He said the appointment of RECs is the prerogative of the president, adding that INEC recently held a federal constituency bye-election in Lagos which is one of the states without a REC.
On when the vacancies in the 27 states would be filled, Dazang said that would depend on the President’s approval. Buhari: I’m concerned about electoral process’ integrity While inaugurating the six new commissioners yesterday, President Buhari said his administration was extremely concerned about the integrity of the electoral process.
He told the new commissioners that they were appointed at a critical time of the country’s political development.
“You are coming on board at a critical time of our political development. I am sure you have truly observed the bye-elections from Kogi to Bayelsa, Rivers, Edo and Ondo states. I am sure you are even concerned about the carnage in some of the elections and the resources dissipated.
“This administration is extremely concerned about the integrity of the electoral process. You are people of great integrity known throughout the country.
“This administration will demand of you to be firm and fair. What this administration expects is that after we have gone, Nigerians will read the political history and know that we served Nigeria.
“We want every Nigerian to use his PVC, cross checked by card reader, that they have been given the opportunity and security in their respective constituencies to elect those they want to elect. The rest is left to their conscience and to God,” the president said.
Speaking on behalf of others, Professor Ibeano thanked the president and Nigerians for giving them what he described as special and challenging opportunity to serve the country.
He pledged that they would discharge their responsibilities as contained in the oaths of allegiance and oaths of office sworn to by them.
He, however, sought the support and prayers of the government and the citizens “so that we can discharge our functions to the best of our abilities and contribute to improve the advances and achievements that have been recorded in our electoral processes so far.”
‘No cause for alarm over RECs vacancies’
Meanwhile, the Election Monitor (EM) has said that there is no cause for alarm over vacancies of Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in 28 states.
The coordinator of the organisation, Mr. Abiodun Ajijola, told Daily Trust last night that there are basically three governorship elections scheduled to hold before the 2019 general elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states and that RECs do coordinate activities of INEC at state level and are assisted by other staff.
“The current administration of INEC has not conducted any governorship election in any state without the presence of a substantive REC and it is not expected that any governorship election would hold without a REC in that state. Despite this the 28 vacancies for the post of Resident Electoral Commissioners must be addressed because of preparations for the 2019 General elections even though it is not currently having any negative effect on the electoral process,” Ajijola said.
He said that there should be no fears about INEC conducting any of the remaining governorship elections without RECs in those states because the three states will have RECs for the conduct of elections.
He added: “It should be remembered that RECs were transferred in December 2014 just before the 2015 General Elections and had basically two months to deliver national elections with the staff they met on ground. While it is important to have the RECs appointed for future administrative planning, utmost care must be taken to get competent, committed and patriotic hands to ensure the advancement of the Nigerian electoral process.”