Ahead of the September 19 Governorship election in Edo state, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has expressed confidence in all its Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, saying it is not new to the antics of partisans whose pastime is to malign electoral officials in the lead-up to major elections. INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu stated this on Tuesday in Abuja on the sidelines of the swearing-in of a new Resident Electoral Commissioner REC, Dr Tella Adeniran Rahmon.
The INEC Chairman was reacting to statements by the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo state alleging criminal connivance between the INEC REC in Akwa Ibom, Barr. Mike Igini and the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP in Edo state, Governor Godwin Obaseki.
Mahmood said; “The REC himself responded and in my discussions with him on Monday, he said he has also asked his lawyers to initiate legal actions against the person who made the statement. So, we leave it at that since the matter is likely to go to court but let me also say this, that we stand by our Resident Electoral Commissioners. We know the kind of job we are doing. On the eve of elections. All manner of people come with all manner of accusations to slander officials of the commission and essentially to divert our attention from the onerous task of conducting elections in the country.
“We won’t be distracted. We know all these shenanigans, people have been doing this for a long time. It will not distract us from doing what is right. My assurance to the people of Edo and the people of Ondo and then the people of the 13 constituencies where we are going to conduct bye-elections on October 31 is that they should expect from INEC free, fair and credible elections; professional conduct. We will not compromise our Oath of Office for any reason.” Whoever the people vote for becomes their governor or representative. This is our assurance to Nigerians”.
On preparations for the election, INEC Chairman said; “when we released the timetable for elections, we itemised 14 activities. As of today, we have implemented 12 activities and until today, not one activity was shifted for even one minute. Two activities are actually holding today (Tuesday) which are the Publication of the Notice of Polls and the Last Day for the Submission of names of Polling Agents by Political Parties. So, we have only two items remaining- the last day for the conduct of campaigns which is the midnight of Thursday before the Saturday of the elections and the last activity is Saturday, 19th September for the conduct of the election and we are making good progress in the case of Ondo.”