The current partnership between the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and universities in Nigeria must be sustained because it is vital for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria, Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said on Tuesday.
He said this at the Post 2019 General Election Review Retreat with Collation and Returning Officers in Lagos.
At the retreat, Yakubu noted that the Commission is under obligation to thank the vice chancellors who served as State Collation Officers for the presidential election and Returning Officers for the givernorship elections; for their immense services to the nation.
He said: “Only those who are involved will appreciate what it means to conduct elections in Nigeria. Anything that anybody has told you before is just a story.
“It is those who are really involved in the conduct of elections that know what it means. The Commission deeply appreciates your service and sacrifice, resulting in some cases, to violent confrontations.
“We saw the way you handled the violent confrontations by partisan actors on election day. We have also seen the social media assault and regrettably, in some cases, even physical assault. We remember the sleepless nights, the media exposure, the criticisms, the condemnations, the commendations and in some cases, recognition earned after the elections.
“If not for the vice chancellors, where else can we have the pool of serious minded and credible Nigerians for such an onerous responsibility? Election in Nigeria is heavily dependent on universities. Your products in the National Youth Service Corps, who are serving nationwide, are the bulk of election duty staff at the polling unit level. I believe that the partnership with the universities is critical, but like every human endeavor, there is room for improvement.”
The INEC chairman urged the vice chancellors to speak up about their experiences on the successes and challenges encountered in the just concluded general election, to enable the Commission device ways of improving the electoral system.
National Commissioner and Chairman, Planning Monitoring and Strategy Committee (PMSC), Dr. Mustafa Lecky disclosed that INEC’s aim of organising the meeting was to comprehensively evaluate the conduct of the polls in order to learn vital lessons that would facilitate a review of policies and programmes implemented during the polls, to create inputs for a roadmap for future elections.