Extend frontiers of free, fair elections, Yakubu charges 3 new commissioners, REC




The Chairman Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, has charged the three newly National Commissioners and a newly sworn-in Resident Electoral Commission (REC) to join the commission in extending the frontiers of free and fair elections in Nigeria.

The three new National Commissioners sworn-in by  President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa were Professor Abdullahi Zuru, a Chemist and former Vice Chancellor of Kebbi state University and Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Professor Sani Adam, a lawyer and former Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Abuja; and Dr Baba Bila, a Chartered Accountant and former Bursar of the University of Benin while the newly appointed REC is Prof Sai’adu Ahmad.

Yakubu who gave the injunction Wednesday in Abuja shortly after the  swearing-in of the new REC as well as welcoming the the three National Commissioners, reminded them to always bear in mind that a credible election draws heavily from the integrity of the election managers.

He urged them to be strict in the application of the law, firm in handling the public trust bestowed on them and fair in their dealings with political parties and candidates. 

The INEC chairman urged them to always put Nigeria and Nigerians first “in discharging their responsibilities,  adding that they must abide by their oaths of office to defend the choice made by Nigerians at the polls in all elections and continue to protect the sanctity of the vote without which democratic election is meaningless.

Yakubu pledged the intention of the commission “to keep deepening the credibility of the electoral process by improving on all planning, management, implementation and support processes through the deployment of appropriate technology.”

He tasked the four appointees “to bring to the commission their vast knowledge and experience as scholars and administrators.

“I am confident that they will join us in further extending the frontiers of free and fair elections in Nigeria. In addition to adherence to the provisions of the law, our success in this arduous task also draws from our integrity as election managers.

“We must be strict in the application of the law, firm in handling the public trust bestowed on us and fair in our dealings with political parties and candidates. 

“We must remember that in discharging our responsibilities, Nigeria and Nigerians must always come first. We must abide by our oaths of office to defend the choice made by Nigerians at the polls in all elections and continue to protect the sanctity of the vote without which democratic election is meaningless.”

“You are coming on board just 52 days to a major election in Anambra State. The election to choose a Govermor for the State is scheduled to hold on Saturday 6 November 2021. 

“All the 18 political parties in Nigeria are fielding candidates in the election and campaign has since commenced, Preparations for the election are at an advanced stage with many of the activities contained in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the election ready implemented. 

“Our intention is to keep deepening the credibility of the electoral process by improving on all planning, management, implementation and support processes through the deployment of appropriate technology.”

He also told them that the commission piloted yet another innovation in the Isoko South 1 State Constituency bye-election in Delta state. 

“We introduced the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for efficient human recognition through a biometric verification mechanism using both fingerprint and facial recognition of voters. 

“The result of the pilot in the 84 polling units was very encouraging indeed. It took an average of just one minute for the device to correctly locate the voter in the system and another two minutes to authenticate a voter. 

“In terms of the ruggedness of the device and its battery life, no single BVAS was replaced due to discharge of battery throughout the voting period. 

“Most importantly, the device was able to guarantee the credibility of voter accreditation by preventing the incidents of multiple voting or the use of stolen PVCs to vote. All voters were accredited electronically using the BVAS, The use of the incident form was eliminated: The Isoko South 1 State Constituency bye election was historic in this respect.

“However, there were a few challenges. Matching the voter’s live image against the image on the register was difficult in a few instances due to the quality of pictures of some voters arising from previous voter registration. 

“Secondly, some polling units were not bright enough when taking the photo for the facial authentication.

“Thirdly, there was the age-old problem of thuggery during elections Our officials were attacked and five BVAS devices snatched by hoodlums. Although this did not affect the elections because we deployed extra devices as part of our contingency measures. 

“Incident is being investigated by the Police: Nevertheless, we wish to assure Nigerians that the commission will address these challenges including the installation of a mechanism to disable and track the device in the event of theft by hoodiums This mechanism will be activated ahead of the forthcoming Anambra state governorship election.”

Responding, one of the newly appointed National commissioners, Prof Abdullahi Zuru, on behalf of the other appointees thanked the President and the commission for the confidence reposed on them.

He pledged that they would discharge their responsibilities with the fear of God and without fear or favour while noting that they would strictly abide by the law.

The new REC, Prof Ahmad has been deployed to Zamfara state.