INEC Alone can’t Guarantee Free, Fair Elections, Says Ekiti REC

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By Victor Ogunje

In view of the appeal by stakeholders to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to up its game and midwife a process for the conduct of more credible elections, the acting Resident Electoral Commissioner in Ekiti State, Dr. Muslim Omoleke, has maintained that INEC alone cannot guarantee error-free polls in the country.

Omoleke said all the stakeholders — INEC, police, political parties, politicians and voters — must be ready to play by the rules and contribute their quotas to rejig and solidify the country’s electoral system.

The acting REC spoke in Ado Ekiti during a courtesy visit to the state Secretariat of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ekiti Council on Wednesday.

The INEC boss, who came in company with heads of departments of the commission’s office in Ekiti, said the visit was to thank the NUJ for its support leading to the successful conduct of the 2919 general election.

Omoleke said the much mouthed request by interested Nigerians that there must be improvement in the electoral system was not misplaced, adding that this could only be realised if stakeholders strictly adhere to the rules guiding the game.

“Conduct of successful and credible elections is not the sole responsibility of INEC. INEC is just a principal stakeholder and participant. Others too have a lot to do.

“If an election is being conducted under a crisis free and secured atmosphere, it means the security agencies have done well. If the campaigns before elections have not been violent, it means the politicians and political parties have played their own part well.

“Also, if election is conducted without interference and the results are announced accurately and in line with the wishes of the people, it means INEC has done well. Even the reportage of events by the media goes a long way to make or mar electioneering process.

“I want to say that journalists in Ekiti showcased professionalism before and during the 2019 elections. The success of the last general election cannot be ascribed to INEC alone.

“Here in Ekiti, we did not record any casualty, which showed that the election had been peacefully conducted and all stakeholders had done their best in the most patriotic way.

“We are here to show appreciation to journalists for accurate reports and display of patriotism as critical stakeholders in the electioneering process,” he said.

The NUJ Chairman, Ekiti Council, Rotimi Ojomoyela, assured INEC that journalists will continue to partner with it to rejig the country’s electioneering process in line with the developmental journalism now in vogue globally.

Ojomoyela advised the commission to strive hard to put Nigeria on the world map of countries that are recognised for the conduct of credible elections to rebuild the country’s image.

“We recognised the fact that whatever we put out to the public could make or mar the conduct of any election, that was why the leadership of NUJ put mechanism in place to ensure that no journalist published fake results. We relied heavily on results from INEC, rather than politicians.

“For you to improve, there must be training for all stakeholders before major elections, this is very necessary. Since we are partners and critical to the success of any election, joint training will be very essential,” he advised.