Be Mindful Of Your Duties, INEC Chairman Charges New RECs

Chairman, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu
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By Akombo Aondona, Abuja

Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has sworn in nine Resident Electoral Commissioners out of 10 screened with the charge to be mindful of their duties.

The event was held at the conference room of the commission headquarters in Abuja.

In a speech he delivered at the swearing-in, the INEC chairman stated: “The conduct of elections is not only a huge responsibility but also a sacred duty. As RECs, you are the representatives of the commission in the various states to which you will be deployed shortly. The work of the Commission is a difficult task. Election is a multi-stakeholder activity. It is also a very emotive issue, especially in an environment where some desperate political actors and their supporters want to win by all means, failing which they blame the Commission or even seek to deligitimise the processes and demonise officials.

“I urge you not to engage in a puerile debate that adds no value to your work. At the same time, you must not be impervious to genuine criticisms. You must maintain the Commission’s tradition of regular consultations with critical stakeholders. These are the political parties, civil society organisations, the media, traditional institutions, religious bodies and the security agencies. You must always be very firm in ensuring fairness and transparency to all.”

Prof. Yakubu continued: “Let me make it clear to you from the outset that you must at all times be guided by the electoral legal framework, the code of conduct for RECs and your good conscience. You must also work closely with your field officers in the state, listening to their wise counsel, but always providing guidance, leadership and effective supervision.

“Similarly, I must warn you to understand and operate within the limits of your delegated powers and responsibilities. Our State offices are part and parcel of the Commission and we will not hesitate to deal with acts of defiance, indiscretion or transgression on the part of any REC.

” In the various states to which you will be deployed shortly, you will be in charge of personnel and resources. I expect you to handle these responsibilities very well indeed. We will hold you accountable for your actions and inactions. Manage your personnel as well as the extremely limited resources at your disposal very well. Elections and electoral activities take place all-year round. As is the case with every general election, reforms will follow in the aftermath of the 2023 General Election. We are finalising our main report for the election as well as the review report following wide-ranging engagements with stakeholders.”

The INEC chairman added: “Today, nine out of the 10 RECs screened and confirmed by the National Assembly were sworn-in at this ceremony. The tenth REC-designate will be sworn-in next month on the expiry of the tenure of the REC representing Akwa Ibom State currently deployed to Delta State. By the proactive decision taken by the appointing authority, there will no long waiting period before the vacancy is filled. Let me therefore seize this opportunity to commend the selfless and dedicated service rendered to the Commission and the nation by the outgoing REC in Delta State, Reverend Dr Monday Udo Tom. The same appreciation is extended to all the other RECs whose tenure ended after serving meritoriously.

“Among the nine new RECs, four have been career officers of the Commission rising to the rank of Director. They have been involved in elections and electoral activities both in the field and at the Headquarters. Their experiences traversed electoral operations, election and party monitoring and electoral litigation. This is the first time that several INEC career officers are appointed as RECs. You are not new to the conduct of elections. There is no learning curve for you. Consequently, there can be no excuses for failing to hit the ground running and for making a huge difference to the quality and transparency of elections. The other five RECs sworn-in today have varied experiences in the public service at both National and State level. We will hold you to the same standard as we hold the career officers of the Commission.

“As new RECs, you are coming on board just as the Commission is about to conclude the three stages of our recent General Election i.e. the main elections conducted on 25th February and 18th March 2023, the supplementary elections where no winners emerged at first ballot held on 15th April 2023, and the re-run elections by the order of the Election Petition and Appeal Tribunals as they conclude their determination of all the cases before them.

“Very soon, the Commission will release the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the re-run elections which will be combined with bye-elections in constituencies where vacancies have been declared by Presiding Officers of legislative houses following the death or resignation of serving members of the National and State assemblies.

“So far, five vacancies have been declared for Surulere 1 Federal Constituency of Lagos State, Jalingo/Yorro/Zing Federal Constituency of Taraba State, Chibok State Constituency of Borno State, Chikun State Constituency of Kaduna State and Guma State Constituency of Benue State.

“Similarly, we want to assure citizens in six other constituencies that we are liaising with the National and State assemblies for the declaration of vacancies so that bye-elections can be conducted in earnest. These are Ebonyi South and Yobe East Senatorial Districts, Akoko North East/Akoko North West Federal Constituency of Ondo State, Yauri/Shanga/Ngaski Federal Constituency of Kebbi State, Isa/Sabon Birni Federal Constituency of Sokoto State and Khana II State Constituency of Rivers State.

” In line with the current policy, and until such a time when the Commission decides otherwise, the nine new RECs will be deployed within their geo-political zones but none will serve in his/her State of origin. Accordingly, it is my pleasure to announce the deployment of the new Resident Electoral Commissioners as follows:

i. Abubakar Dambo Sarkin Pawa – Kebbi

ii. Abubakar Ma’aji Ahmed – Borno

iii.  Dr. Anugbum Onuoha – Edo

iv.  Ehimeakhe Shaka Isah – Akwa Ibom

v.  Mal. Aminu Idris – Kaduna

vi.  Mohammed Sadiq Abubakar – Kwara

vii.  Mrs Oluwatoyin O. Babalola – Ondo

viii.  Olubunmi O. Omoseyindemi – Ekiti

ix.  Shehu L. Wahab – Nasarawa “.

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