Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has sworn in a new Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), and welcomed 6 additional National Commissioners to the Commission’s fold.
The 6 National Commissioners resumed at the Commission’s Headquarters in Abuja, after they were earlier sworn in by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, on Wednesday.
Shortly after administering the oath of office on the New National Commissioner, Olaniyi Olaleye Babalola Ijalaye, a legal practitioner from Ondo state, the INEC Chairman announced that “Mr. Ijalaye is hereby deployed to Ogun State as the new REC”. He said “the current REC for Ogun State, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje, is redeployed to Lagos State”, where a vacuum was created with the appointment of Mr. Sam Olumekun, the immediate past REC of the state as one of the new National Commissioners
The other newly sworn in members of the Commission are: Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu, Malam Mohammed Haruna, Mr. Kenneth Nnamdi Ukeagu, Prof. Rhoda Gumus, and Maj. Gen. Modibbo Abubakar Alkalu (Rtd.)
In his welcome address, the INEC Chairman noted that four of them are not new to the Commission. He said “ Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu, a lawyer, and Malam Mohammed Haruna, a journalist, have been re-appointed to serve for a second term. Mr. Sam Olumekun, a retired civil servant, has served for two terms as Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in many States, including Lagos while Mr. Kenneth Nnamdi Ukeagu has been a career staff of the Commission, rising to the rank of Director”.
“The other two National Commissioners are Mrs. Rhoda Gumus, a Professor of Engineering, and Modibbo Abubakar Alkali, a retired Major General of the Nigerian Army”, he added.
Professor Yakubu enthused that “they bring to the Commission their cumulative experiences in diverse fields that will no doubt strengthen the work of the Commission for the reform of the electoral process and the conduct of free, fair and credible elections. With your appointment, the Commission now has the full compliment of 12 National Commissioners”.
He urged the new members of the Commission to settle in quickly for the herculean task ahead. He said: “let me draw the attention of the new National and Resident Electoral Commissioners to the reality of serving in INEC. The task ahead is challenging. It is important therefore to quickly settle in and familiarize yourselves with the rules, procedures and responsibilities of your office. I have no doubt that we will continue to raise the bar of credible elections in Nigeria”.
The INEC Chairman urged them to uphold the tannates of integrity, rule of law and service to nation in the discharge of their duties. He said “as I told the last set of Commissioners shortly after they were sworn-in five months ago on Wednesday 15th September 2021, our success in this arduous task draws largely from our integrity as election managers. We must be strict in the application of the law, firm in handling the public trust bestowed on us and fair in our dealings with political parties, candidates and other stakeholders and all Nigerians”.
He continued: “In discharging our enormous responsibilities, we must abide by our oaths of office. We must continue to defend the choice made by Nigerians at the polls by protecting the sanctity of the vote without which the value of democratic election is diminished”.
Professor Yakubu further harped on the Commission’s preparations for the bye elections to fill vacancies in three Federal and three State constituencies in Cross River, Imo, Ondo and Plateau States scheduled for Saturday 26th February, 2022. He stressed to the ne members of the Commission that there is no election season in Nigeria any longer. “Elections are conducted all-year round by the Commission”, Professor Yakubu said.
Explaining further, he said; “In addition to the six bye-elections holding this weekend, there are three pending bye-elections in Zamfara State (Shinkafi and Gusau I State Constituencies) and Kaduna State (Giwa West State Constituency). In addition, we are right now preparing for two off-cycle Governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun States scheduled for 18th June 2022 and 16th July 2022 respectively as well as the 2023 General Election”.
Responding on behalf of the new appointees, Maj. Gen. Modibbo Abubakar Alkali (Rtd), said their task was to support the INEC Chairman to develop an Election Management Body that would be the pride of Nigerians.
The new National Commissioner assured that they will key into the vision and mission of the Commission and abide by the oath of office they took by operation with honesty, and without fear or favour.