Politicians blame us for poll losses – INEC

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, has said the attitude of politicians to win elections by all means is making the work of the Commission a difficult one.

Yakubu, who spoke yesterday when he swore in nine newly-appointed Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), stated that every political actor who losses election blame INEC for his loss, “or even seek to deligitimise the processes and demonise officials.”

He, however, warned the newly sworn-in RECs not to engage in a puerile debate that adds no value to their work.

“At the same time, you must not be impervious to genuine criticisms,” he further advised, adding that they should maintain INEC’s tradition of regular consultations with critical stakeholders.
“These are the political parties, civil society organisations, the media, traditional institutions, religious bodies and the security agencies. You must always be very firm in ensuring fairness and transparency to all.

“Let me make it clear to you from the outset that you must at all times be guided by the electoral legal framework, the code of conduct for RECs and your good conscience,” Yakubu added.
He threatened that the Commission would not hesitate to deal with acts of defiance, indiscretion or transgression on the part of any RECs.

The INEC chairman noted that new RECs were coming on board at a time the Commission was about to conduct court-ordered re-run elections.

He announced the plan by the Commission to release the timetable and schedule of activities for the re-run elections, which he disclosed would be combined with bye-elections in constituencies where vacancies have been declared by presiding officers of legislative houses, as a result of death or resignation of serving members of the national and state assemblies.

Yakubu stated that five vacancies had already been declared in both national and state assemblies, and assured citizens in six other constituencies in Ebonyi South and Yobe East senatorial districts; Akoko North East/Akoko North West Federal Constituency of Ondo State, Yauri/Shanga/Ngaski Federal Constituency of Kebbi State, Isa/Sabon Birni Federal Constituency of Sokoto State and Khana II State Constituency of Rivers State, that INEC are liaising with the national and state assemblies for the declaration of vacancies so that bye-elections could be conducted as soon as possible.

According to him, nine out of the 10 RECs screened and confirmed by the National Assembly were sworn-in, and said the 10th REC-designate would be sworn-in next month on the expiry of the tenure of the REC representing Akwa Ibom State currently deployed to Delta State.

He noted that four of the nine new RECs are INEC career officers who rose to the rank of director in the Commission.” They have been involved in elections and electoral activities both in the field and at the headquarters.

“Their experiences traversed electoral operations, election and party monitoring and electoral litigation,” he said, adding that this is the first time that several INEC career officers are appointed as RECs.

“There is no learning curve for you. There can be no excuses for failing to hit the ground running and for making a huge difference to the quality and transparency of elections,” he added.

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