VCs involve in partisan politics, convicted of electoral malpractice will not serve as Returning Officers – INEC Boss warns

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By Joy Odor

The Chairman, Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu has solicited the unalloyed support of the Vice Chancellors (VCs) of Federal Universities across the country to serve as Collation and Returning Officers for the conduct of 2023 elections.

Professor Yakubu who seeks their support during the meeting with the VCs and the National Universities Commission (NUC) in Abuja on Thursday vowed that any VC that are card carrying members, have participated in partisan politics, corrupt or convicted of electoral malpractice must be excluded and should not be nominated.

He affirmed that INEC would not give a direct nod to names forwarded by the Universities for the election as extra efforts will be made to scrutinise the list submitted confidentially to ensure is devoid of bad eggs that can jeopardise the credibility of the election.

According to him, tertiary institutions are critical stakeholders and without their involvement, the Commission will find it extremely difficult to conduct credible elections.

INEC Chairman maintained that despite few challenges, the happy partnership has enhanced the transparency and credibility of the elections in Nigeria as well as public confidence in the process and wished to sustain the partnership.

“As in previous elections, we have requested each University for a specified number and category of academic staff as contained in my letter to the Vice Chancellors. I must warn that staff that are card carrying members or have participated in partisan politics should not be nominated.

“Similarly, those who may not be involved in partisan politics but are known to have obvious political leanings should not be nominated. Furthermore, those who have been convicted of electoral malpractice must be excluded.

“The Commission will carefully scrutinise the list which must be submitted confidentially in the manner prescribed by Commission in my letter to the Vice Chancellors. Like all election duty personnel, each Collation and Returning Officer will swear to an oath of neutrality.

“At the polling unit level, the critical segment of election duty staff is drawn from products of our Universities and Polytechnics involved in the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.

“For the various collation and declaration centres, the Commission draws the required Collation and Returnig Officers from the academic staff of our Universities, including the Vice Chancellors who serve as Returning Officers for Governorship election and State Collation Officers for Presidential election.

“Despite a few challenges, this happy partnership has further enhanced the transparency and credibility of the elections in Nigeria as well as public confidence in the process. The Commission wishes to sustain this partnership” he noted.

He promised the Vice Chancellors that adequate security measures have been put in place for the safety of all staff, media, youth corps members, and the electorates.

Speaking, the Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed explained that the way Vice-Chancellors would navigate through the election will define where the country goes.

He enjoined them to do their best as their job is sacrifice and hoped to achieve a successful election at the end.

Prof. Rasheed commended the INEC Chairman for his faith and confidence in the university system for the success of the election.

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