2023 : Anxiety In INEC Over Exit Of Commissioners With Civil Society Background, Proven Integrity

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INEC Chairman- Prof Mahmud Yakubu

 Igini, Sadiq, leave 2022
We ‘re losing our credible officials–INEC sources

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

THERE are palpable disaffection and serious concerns in the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, that preparation for the 2023 general elections may not command public confidence, transparent and credible as promised by President Muhammadu Buhari following the exit of the Commissioners said to be with proven records of integrity and consistency.

The exiting Commissioners sources at the INEC hinted are known and applauded by Nigerians as individual of genuine civil society background.

President Buhari has in many occasions assured Nigerians that he would leave a legacy of credible, free, fair and transparent elections in 2023.

The sources at the INEC headquarters told Vanguard that most of the National and Resident Electoral Commissioners, REC, with huge experience and institutional memory of the Commission that have been on the forefront of ensuring a transparent electoral process without succumbing to the influence of the political actors irrespective of the party in power will not be part of the elections.

More worrisome according to the sources is that the Commissioners whose zones and states were won by the opposition party in the last 2019 elections will not be part of the 2023 elections.

The sources alleged that some of the newly nominated National Commissioners are not only nominees of the ruling party, but establishment people that could be susceptible to manipulations by “those that planted them.”

Investigations revealed that the tenure of most of the Commissioners that have played prominent roles in INEC all these years and not pliable to external influence will expire in 2022.

“Even though we don’t doubt President Buhari’s commitment in ensuring a free, fair and transparent election in 2023, we are afraid that the people who would make it happen will not be in office beyond 2022,” a source that spoke on the condition of anonymity said.

The source further said, “The President as a person cannot do it alone. It is the people within the commission that will implement his desire of a credible elections but I doubt how possible it will be. These few well known and respected individuals in our system are the people that have brought credibility to the commission but unfortunately with the nomination of new commissioners instead of elevating these few tested and experienced individuals, they have been left out and they will not be part of the general elections in 2023.”

Another source, who claimed to be disturbed by the recent nominations in the commission alleged that some of the newly nominated national commissioners by the President are establishment persons whose nominations were influenced by zonal bigwigs in the ruling party at the center.

The source said, “The uninspired pliant names of commissioners designate is not only worrisome but very concerning given the clear message the ruling party has sent to Nigerians about what we should expect in 2023.

“Nigerians should be worried over these people who are mostly pliant establishment supporters picked to ensure easy victory for selected ruling party candidates in the 2023 elections.

“Our findings have revealed and confirmed our worst fears that selected nominees are proxies picked by geopolitical zone leaders. All persons of integrity and uprightness are not allowed to remain in INEC. That is why AVM Mu’azu
and in particular the refusal to give Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu second term because of the Anambra election that the APC lost,” the visibly INEC source said.

The source further said, “Nigerians can also note that our old RECs who have performed so well to the applaud and admiration of Nigerians both from North West, North East and South South were not appointed as National Commissioners. The government has sent a clear message that integrity and competence are not to be rewarded but only pliant and compromise people needed in INEC. The integrity of the 2023 election is already in jeopardy.”

The source mentioned the INEC Commissioners that have been part of the transformation but will not be with the commission for the 2023 elections to include the recently retired National Commissioners, Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu, AVM Ahmed Tijani Mu’azu, and Abubakar Ahmed Nahuche “who resigned after the 2019 election given what he experienced and possible concerns over what he sees coming ahead, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in charge of Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igin and ihis counterparts in Sokoto Abubakar Musa Sadiq both of whom have incredible credentials of true umpire. “

One of the sources said, “Okay take for instance, if you are talking about a credible and transparent process in 2023, how can you drop persons like Mike Igini, Sadiq among others instead of elevating them as National commissioners to supervise states?

“When Mike Igini was the REC in Cross River state, he stopped the PDP from staying in one apartment to compile names of people in the name of delegates and writing results in elections that never held during primary elections. The state had what they called conclave where few party leaders would stay in one office and write the names of their lackey for different positions. He stopped that. It was under him the opposition parties like ACN and CPC made impact, that is the kind of person we want in this commission.

“He has brought respect and credibility to the commission and Nigerians see him as a fetching symbol of hope of credible elections in this country. We are sad in the Commission that such a man of integrity could be left out by the president who is a man of integrity himself”

“Also remember in 2015 under PDP when there were threats of the use of federal might to rig the election. As a REC, he declared that in Edo state, there would be no” “federal might” but the might of the people through the ballot that would determine the outcome of the election. That was what happened and Nigerians including opposition Apc applauded him”

“Only in Edo state out of 11 states of South-South and South East that President Buhari scored 46 percent over and above the minimum 25 percent constitutional requirements. Only in Edo state that the APC secured a senatorial seat, four federal seats and majority of the state Assembly seats.”

Alleging that some chieftains of the ruling party may be working to thwart efforts of President Buhari in ensuring credible election, the source said, “But in the 2019 election when the same integrity of 2015 elections was demonstrated and party members were not successful even though for the first time president Buhari scored about 36 percent of the votes in Akwa lbom, that same man has now been sidelined from participating in the conduct of 2023 elections. What a country that rejects its best !

On the Sokoto REC, Abubakar Musa Sadiq, who also has activism background, the source said that despite the fact that the former Vice President, Arch. Namadi Sambo is his uncle, the opposition party won elections in his state but nothing happened unlike now where the ruling party didn’t want to hear that opposition won anything.

Said the source, “He was appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP in 2010 that formed the Prof. Attahiru Jega team. The then Vice president Arch. Namadi Sambo is his uncle who recommended him to his boss for his integrity and uprightness.

“Ironically but not unexpected, all the states Hon. Sadiq presided over as a REC, the PDP party of his uncle lost all the states he served as REC . Such states include, Yobe which was won by the All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP, Gombe election also won by ANPP and in 2015 APC won Sokoto.

“But because in the 2019 election PDP an opposition party not controlled by the ruling party at the centre won the election, Hon. sadiq has now committed a mortal offence and must not be elevated as a National commissioner but must be shown the way out of lNEC for serving with integrity.

“The level of honesty of this REC is unparalleled. He and the REC of Akwa lbom are exceptional for returning millions of the Commission’s money back to the commission after payments of ad hoc staff and all expenses after election.

” On this exceptional records of financial accountability after elections, the REC of kano. Prof. Riskuwa is another one. After the 2019 election, he joined the rank of these two exceptional RECs known for accountability of commission funds after elections which is unusual in public service and the commission respect them alot”

“In the case of lgini, since 2010 that he has been on board in INEC, he has maintained umblemish record of of consistency and integrity in the various states he has served, good records of public accountability, returning monies to headquarters and committing same to INEC such as the ultra modern huge hall in Cross River for collation of election results when he was a REC there”

“After the 2019 and the subsequent rerun elections, a certain monies budgeted by the headquarters and credited to Akwa lbom state INEC, he returned the money through official letter that the state had no need for the item listed for which the state account was credited with millions.

“Why then should people of this orientation and values in the service of the fatherland be treated this manner that integrity no longer matter in public service,” the INEC source fumed.

Credit: Article first published in the Vanguard of 30th, December, 2022.

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