Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Amidst perceived lack of independence, mainly by opposition parties, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, wednesday described the commission as the most improved public institution in Nigeria.
Yakubu, at the 2019 post-election review session with the second batch of Electoral Officers (EOs) from 17 states, in Abuja, said the commission should be rated high when compared with its counterparts in other West African countries, especially given its area of wide coverage and its staff’s dedication to duty.
He said: “Whenever I compare what we have done with what my colleagues elsewhere have done, I sometimes say we are many countries in West Africa rolled into one.
“Given the size of our voter registration, our population, one can conveniently say if you look at what happened in our elections taking from the period of 1999 to date, I have no doubt in my mind that INEC is the most improved public service institution in Nigeria today.
“We have offices in all the local government areas (LGAs). Tell me one agency, which has offices in LGAs and the staff work as hard as our EOs and staff at the LG levels?”
According to him, the commission has everything to be proud of and will keep striving to improve on its service delivery.
He said the purpose of the meeting was for officers to explore ways and means by which they could improve the system.
He added that the commission would not lose the experience it had gathered over the years on improving the electoral process and urged the electoral officers to share their experiences to help improve on the country’s electoral process.
“So, feel free to make suggestions, observations, and comments on how we can make the system even better.
“This is our meeting; we should open up better where we need to work even harder to make the electoral process what it should be,” Yakubu stated.
In his remarks, the Electoral Management Expert, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), Mr. Seray Jah, commended INEC for its commitment to the review of the 2019 elections and improving the country’s electoral process.
Jah said: “If Nigeria got its electoral system right, the sub-region would be rubbed off of the positive.”
“Therefore, we hope this meeting will lead to actionable recommendations that will further enhance credible elections in Nigeria.”
In his contribution, the Programme Coordinator, European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria, Maria Mauro, said the centre was working with its partners to improve elections and good governance in Africa.
According to Mauro, “There is no perfect election as there is no perfect world. There is no any electoral law that has been acceptable worldwide but we do have best practices, which we have to adjust to the contexts, tradition and specific situation found in each country.”
She commended Nigeria for running its elections with one electoral law, even though there was need for some reviews.
“In Europe, in spite of the fact that we have the same population, each state has its own electoral law. So, I have admiration for Nigeria for maintaining its unity and having elections the same date, the same period with same legal framework,” she said.
Mauro said ECES was committed to working with INEC while looking forward to the conclusion of the review of the elections.