The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday inaugurated an Oyo man, Mr Abdulganiyu Olayinka Raji and 8 others as Resident Electoral Commissioners.
Other RECs are Mrs Asmau Maikudi, Sam Olumekun, Professor Riskuwa Sheu, Barrister Kassim Geidam, Jibrin Zarewa, Abdulganiyu Raji and Professor Samuel Egwu.
Raji would be in charge of Ekiti State.
At the inauguration, chairman of the commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu cautioned the RECS to be fair to all political parties in the discharge of their responsibilities.
Noting that the RECs are the Commission’s gatekeepers in the states where they would be posted, he urged them to treat all political actors and critical stakeholders fairly in their conduct ahead of 2019 general elections.
According to Yakubu, ‘’You are fortunate to assume duty just after the conclusion of the Commission’s Strategic Plan 2017-2021. In terms of strategic planning, we are prepared for 2019. Furthermore, we are already taking practical steps towards actualising the Strategic Plan.
“The complimentary document, the Election Project Plan, is almost ready. Very soon, the Election Management System that will enable us track activities almost on daily basis will be ready.
‘’As Resident Electoral Commissioners, you will be responsible for the implementation of the plan. In doing so, you will also exercise supervisory control over personnel, resources as well as legal and administrative processes in the States to which you are posted. You will also interact with various categories of stakeholders, including partisan actors. As election managers, you must maintain the required openness and consultation. At the same time, you must be very firm and courageous on the side of the law as well as our regulations and guidelines as required of you as unbiased umpire. Be fair to all, partisan to none.
‘’As I told the first set of new Resident Electoral Commissioners a few weeks ago, you can also be posted to any part of the country at any time the exigencies of service require such deployment. For now, you will be posted to States within your geo-political zones but none of you will ever serve in his or her State of origin throughout your tenure.’’
Appraising the Continuous Voters’ Registration, the INEC chairman described the exercise as successful and further noted that it has since been devolved to ward level in Anambra state in view of the November governorship election in the State.
‘’As you are aware, the Commission has embarked upon the continuous voter registration exercise nationwide. For the first time in the history of the Commission, citizens who have attained the age of 18 years and those who could not register before the last General Election now have the opportunity to do so on a continuous basis as envisaged by the Electoral Act. The exercise is conducted at the Local Government level on quarterly basis. At the end of the first quarter of the exercise, some 1,810,153 citizens were registered. The exercise is now in the second week of the second quarter and already some 282,281 citizens have been registered, making a total of 2,092,434 new registrants so far.
‘’In Anambra State in particular, the registration has been devolved to Ward level in view of the forthcoming Governorship election consistent with the Commission’s practice. As part of the Commission’s continuing improvement of the electoral process, we have introduced a new innovation in voter registration in Anambra State which will in due course be extended nationwide using our newly acquired Direct Data Capturing Machines (DDCMs). Data is now collected on Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) categorised by gender and type of disability. This will help us in planning access to polling units and such other support on Election Day as persons with special needs and advocates of more inclusiveness in our democracy have demanded of the Commission for some time,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Barrister Mike Iginni assured Professor Yakubu of ‘’total commitment to the core values contained in your strategic plans for conducting elections.
‘’As INEC gatekeepers, we shall stand by the core values of integrity, impartiality that guide our responsibility.’’