Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) , Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has said that the electoral body is not claiming perfection in its conduct of the 2019 general election.
Yakubu stressed that ‘no democracy, no electoral process all over the world is perfect’.
In his remarks during the post-2019 general election review meeting with electoral officers (EOs) in Abuja, yesterday, the Commission’s boss revealed he is not a greenhorn in the conduct of elections, having worked as a presiding officer and as an advocate staff during the 1979 general election.
Yakubu said: “I have always had a soft spot for EOs. In 1979, 40 years ago, in a general election conducted over a period of five weeks, and, again, in 1983, I had the privilege of serving as a presiding officer and as an advocate staff.
“At that time, results were not announced at polling units. There were these heavy metal boxes that we used to carry to the local government secretariats, which was then the counting and collation centre. And, it was at that point that I came face to face with the almighty EOs.
“Anyone who is familiar with elections knows that the work of the Commission at the headquarters is important. But, actually, equally important is the work of the Commission at the local government level for which the EOs play the most critical roles.
“Anyone familiar with the way elections are conducted in Nigeria and has been to the field also appreciates what the EOs go through. You do lots of things, not just election-day business. Let us start with the Continuous Voter Registration exercise.
“Despite the odds and all the difficulties, and rotation of centres, the commission within a period of 18 months was able to register over 14 million new voters and thanks to the work of the EOs at local government levels.
“Before we conduct elections, before we finalise on the sensitive materials, political parties conduct primaries, do their meetings, congresses, and conventions, particularly for those who opt direct primaries, it starts right from the ward level and the EOs will coordinate these for the commission.
“Preparation for general elections, movement of staff, opening of polling units (PU), coordination of PU activities on Election Day, reverse logistics.
“All these activities are heavily dependent on the EOs. Anything that anybody is going to say about the conduct of elections in Nigeria is secondary to the kind of information we are going to hear from those who truly conduct elections at the level that matters at the level of the PUs.
“The most important level of election on election day is actually the PU. Anything that happens thereafter is the movement of results and collation. But the PU is actually where the election takes place and the work which you perform as PUs for the commission.
“We have 774 local government areas, meaning that we have 774 EOs.
“Where we should to be criticised, I consistently say that friends will criticise you, but, your enemies will condemn you.
“But criticism is the basis for making any system work, no democracy, no electoral process is perfect. Every democracy is work in progress.”