Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it was currently scrutinising the nomination forms from the 48 political parties that applied to contest the Osun State governorship election.
Commission’s chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, said this during the swearing-in of two new Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) at the Abuja headquarters of the commission, on Wednesday.
Yakubu further revealed that the Commission closed nominations for the election, on Tuesday, in line with the schedule and timetable released last year.
His words, “Our preparations for the Osun State Governorship election continue in earnest. Nomination of candidates closed on Tuesday in line with the Timetable and Schedule of Activities released by the Commission in October last year.
“A record number of 48 political parties have nominated candidates for the election. The Commission is currently processing the nomination forms. We shall remain focused on the goal of improving our electoral process,” he revealed.
Announcing that no REC would serve outside his or her geo-political zones, he said: “We have just witnessed the swearing-in of new Resident Electoral Commissioners. Earlier, a new National Commissioner was sworn-in by the President.
“It is, therefore, my pleasure to congratulate Garba Attahiru Madami and Ahmad Bello Mahmud on your nomination, confirmation and appointment as the Resident Electoral Commissioners.
“Let me similarly welcome on board Mr. Festus Okoye as a National Commissioner. With these appointments, we now have the full complement of 12 National Commissioners and all but two Resident Electoral Commissioners.
“Each one of you brings to the Commission your knowledge and experience that will help in managing the enormous responsibilities of conducting free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria. Mr. Festus Okoye is not only a Lawyer but also a well-known human rights activist and an expert in constitutional and electoral law.
“Ahmad Bello Mahmud is also a Lawyer with several years of private legal practice and public service while Garba Attahiru Madami is a retired public servant and Lecturer. With only 205 days to the 2019 general elections, you must quickly settle down to work.
“For the two Resident Electoral Commissioners, you will be deployed to States within your geo-political zones in line with the Commission’s policy. However, none of you will serve in his State of origin throughout your tenure.
“Accordingly, Garba Attahiru Madami will take charge as our new Resident Electoral Commissioner for Kwara State while Ahmad Bello Mahmud is hereby deployed to Kebbi State.
“As you assume duty immediately, let me remind you that you are responsible for the management of personnel, materials and resources in your States of posting.
“You will also interact with various stakeholders. In discharging your responsibilities, you must at all times be open, transparent and non-partisan while remaining firm and courageous.
“You must quickly familiarise yourselves with the relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the Commission’s plans, guidelines and regulations as well as established processes and procedures.
“On the practical side of your work, you must immediately interact with your staff and pay attention to their welfare, visit the Local Government offices in your States and assess the various facilities and critical requirements for the 2019 general elections, ranging from the recruitment and training of ad hoc staff, logistics and more.
“Within the confines of the law, I encourage you to be imaginative in responding to the needs of the electorate and adding value to the electoral process. In doing so, always seek for clarification and, where necessary, the approval of the Commission.
“I wish to assure you that your supervising National Commissioners and the Headquarters will always support you to deliver on the Commission’s core mandate of service to Nigerians,” he charged.
Speaking further, the INEC boss said: “Only last week, the Commission released the Timetable and Schedule of activities for four bye-elections following declaration of vacancies by the National Assembly and the Cross River State House of Assembly. We have already fixed Saturday August 11, 2018 for the bye-elections.
“Since then, we have received additional declaration of vacancies from the Rivers State House of Assembly in respect of Port Harcourt III State Constituency and the Taraba State House of Assembly for Takum I State Constituency.
“Since the law requires the Commission to conduct the elections within one month from the declaration of vacancy, the bye-elections in Rivers and Taraba States will be held simultaneously on Saturday August 18, 2018.
“The timetable and schedule of activities for the two elections will be released today after the weekly Commission meeting. With this development, the Commission will be conducting six bye-elections the Osun State Governorship election scheduled for 22 September 2018.
“For the new RECs sworn-in, you will be given an immediate practical immersion in the conduct of elections. The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Kwara State will be deployed to Kogi State to observe the Lokoja/Kogi-Koton Karfe Federal Constituency bye-election while that of Kebbi will be deployed to observe the Katsina South Senatorial bye-election,” he said.