The Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) has solicited the support of Nigerian Universities to source for 23,258 personnel to serve as Collation and Returning officers in the forthcoming 2023 General Election.
Speaking at a meeting with Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, held in Abuja, Thursday, INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu said the required academic staff must be of impeccable integrity and understand the election duty as a call to national service.
Professor Yakubu who highlighted the importance of academic staff of universities, including the Vice Chancellors to the critical sections of collation and declaration of results in elections in Nigeria, explained that it would be extremely difficult for the commission to conduct credible elections without them.
Yakubu said “the Commission draws the required Collation and Returning 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.
“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.
“Put together, we will engage 23,258 personnel as Collation and Returning Officers. It is for this reason that this meeting is crucial. We need the support of our universities to source the requisite number of suitably academic staff of impeccable integrity”.
He however noted that “I must warn that staff who 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”, the INEC Chairman emphasised.
Despite the challenges involved, the Electoral Umpire expressed it’s desire to continue to sustain partnership with tertiary institutions for successful elections, adding that it has further enhanced the transparency and credibility of elections conducted in the country, as well as public confidence in the process.
As the nation’s final register of voters now stands at 93,469,008, the 2023 General Election is expected to hold in 1,491 constituencies nationwide, while Collation of results will take place in 8,809 Registration Wards, 774 Local Government Areas, 36 States and the FCT, according to INEC.