INEC Chairman Swears in New Resident Electoral Commissioners

INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahood Yakubu, yesterday swore into office two Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) who were recently cleared by the Senate.

The new RECs are Dr. Alalibo Sinikiem Johnson from Bayelsa State and Umar Mukhtar Gajiram from Borno State. Johnson replaced the former REC of Cross River State while Gajiram replaced the former REC of Taraba State who died a few months ago.

Johnson holds a BSc. degree in Political Science and a Master and Doctoral degrees in Peace and Conflict Studies. Until this appointment, he was a lecturer in the Niger Delta University, Bayelsa State, while Gajiram holds a Bachelor degree in English Language and a Master degree in Public Administration. He served in various capacities in the Borno State civil service until his retirement as a substantive director. After swearing them in, the INEC chairman tasked them on the rules of engagement as Resident Electoral Commissioners.

According to INEC chairman, “You will also be responsible for the implementation of the Commission’s policies. In doing so, you will exercise supervisory control over personnel, resources as well the legal and administrative processes in the state to which you are deployed.

“You will also interact with various categories of stakeholders. In doing so, you must maintain the required openness and consultation. At the same time, you must be very firm in the discharge of your responsibilities.”

As RECs, he told them that they can be deployed to any part of the country at any time the exigencies of service require adding: “You will never serve in your states of origin throughout your tenure. In line with this policy, Johnson was hereby deployed to Cross River State while Gajiram was deployed to Taraba State.”

The INEC boss told the resident commissioners that “your deployment is coming just three days to the conduct of several re-run elections by court order.”

He said recently that elections would hold in 28 constituencies across 11 states of the federation, explaining that six of these elections involve the entire constituencies while 22 elections will be held only in some polling units.

In all the constituencies, Yakubu said the elections would be contested by the same political parties and candidates who participated in the 2019 general election except where the elections were nullified on grounds of candidate disqualification.

According to him, the two affected constituencies are Gamawa federal constituency in Bauchi State and Agwara state constituency in Niger State where elections will be held without the candidates and parties that were declared winners in the general election.

He also said there would be no substitution of candidates as these are not bye-elections but court-ordered re-run elections and the period for nomination of candidates had lapsed since the end of 2018 in preparation for the 2019 general election.

Yakubu assured Nigerians that the Commission is ready for the re-run elections, as all sensitive and non-sensitive materials have been deployed to the states; stakeholders’ meetings have been held; security arrangements are being finalised while training and posting of ad hoc staff as well as the configuration of Smart Card Readers are ongoing.

The INEC chairman added that where the elections involve entire constituencies, national as well as some Resident Electoral Commissioners would be deployed.