Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Friday met with the 37 State Collation Officers(SCOPEs) for the Presidential Election, many of which doubled as Returning Officers for the 28 Governorship elections.
The meeting is part of the ongoing comprehensive post-election review exercise, being undertaken by the Commission to deliberate on the 2023 General Election and to learn critical lessons for future elections.
Speaking at the event the electoral umpire said the Commission’s expectation was that the meeting would help identify areas of strength and weaknesses as well as necessary reforms.
The INEC Chairman said “It is practically unmanageable to invite all the collation and returning officers for 1,462 federal and state constituencies made up of 109 Senatorial Districts as well as 360 Federal and 993 State Houses of Assembly constituencies. We therefore focused on the Senatorial Districts since they are bigger and cut across the other constituencies.”
According to him, some Nigerians have raised concerns about result management at various levels, while some of the issues are subject of litigations.
To this end Yakubu further noted that the meeting will also deliberate on necessary reforms that the commission needs to introduce going forward.
The INEC Chairman explained that “issues have arisen and some Nigerians have raised concerns about result management at various levels. While some of the issues are subject of litigations and therefore sub judice, we can nevertheless discuss them broadly and most importantly share experience on the way forward”.
He identified 7 key areas of the 2023 General Election which the Commission sought the contribution of the participants on. They include; Recruitment, training and posting of Collation and Returning Officers; Logistics for movement to and from your places of assignment; and the integrity of the collation and declaration procedure, including the application of the law, regulations and guidelines for election result management.
Other areas identified by Prof. Yakubu are; The Role of Technology in Result Management; Security of Collation/Returning Officers and the Collation Centres; Conduct of party agents and election observers during collation; Conduct of security personnel; and any other lessons that will improve the future collation and declaration of results.
The INEC Boss disclosed that at the conclusion of review engagements, a comprehensive report will be prepared on resolutions to improve the critical aspect of the nation’s electoral process.
Earlier, in her welcome address the Chairman, Planning, Monitoring and Strategic Committee, (PMSC) and National Commissioner, Prof. Rhoda Gumus, said the State Collation Officers for Presidential Elections (SCOPEs) and Senatorial District Collation Officers (SDROs) are key players in conducting elections in Nigeria.
She noted that the Commission employ these categories of personnel; lecturers and Vice Chancellors from the Federal Universities, that have honesty and integrity to carry out this function, on Election Day.
She urged the participants at the review meeting to contribute freely and meaningfully towards improving future elections,