Despite the raging criticism trailing the appointment of a national commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mrs. Amina Zakari, as head of the body’s committee to coordinate the collation of presidential election results next month, the commission yesterday insisted that she would not be replaced.
Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, also told The Guardian: “Mrs. Amina Zakari’s choice as the chair of the ad hoc Committee on National Collation Centre will not affect the credibility of the 2019 general elections and the integrity of the Commission in any way.
“First, the Commission has conducted 195 re-run, bye and end-of-tenure elections that have produced clear winners since 2015. Nobody has accused the Commission of rigging any of those elections. In fact, some of these elections were won by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Besides, litigations on election results have reduced drastically since 2015.
“Secondly, INEC has deepened the involvement of stakeholders in the electoral process by involving them in all policies put in place to strengthen and improve the electoral system. This has engendered trust and confidence.
“I think it will be inaccurate to take the false allegations being peddled against the Commission as the general consensus. From the information available to us, Nigerians have confidence in our ability to conduct free, fair and credible general elections in 2019.”
Meanwhile, INEC has called on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to allow its members participate as Collation and Returning Officers in this year’s general elections.
Yakubu, who made the call during a consultative meeting he held with ASUU in Gwagwalada, Abuja, yesterday, also appealed to the union to consider election as an essential service to the nation and such, maintain collaborative relationship that would play critical role in the electoral process.
He stated: “For some time now, INEC has relied on the universities for the critical mass election duty staff and success of general elections. ASUU has collaborated with the commission in vetting the list of its members engaged as Collation and Returning officers.
“Within the time available, it would be difficult to identity, recruit and train thousands of alternative Collation and Returning Officers needed for the elections.
“The commission would like to appeal to ASUU to consider election as an essential service to the nation and continue with the existing collaboration with INEC. Allow your members to participate as Collation and Returning Officers for the general elections.”
Responding, National President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said the union was committed to ensuring the success and credibility of the general elections.
He maintained that the union would not disrupt the electoral process during the elections, assuring that the strike would not hinder community service to the country.