The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has secured the commitment of the Vice Chancellors (VCs) of Federal Universities in the country who would serve as state Collation Officers for the Presidential election and Returning Officers for the governorship elections to work without fear or favour.
The VCs also expressed committed to nominating officers from their institutions who are non-partisan to serve as ad-hoc staff for the general elections.
The assurance came during a meeting held between the Leadership of INEC led by the Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu and the Committee of Vice Chancellors (CVC) in Abuja, today.
The INEC Chairman restated the Commission’s delight at the existing collaboration with the academia which he noted “has further enhanced the transparency and credibility of elections in Nigeria”.
He said “For the various collation and declaration Centre’s, 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 elections and Collation Officers for the Presidential elections”.
Professor Yakubu requested the university Dons to screen the staff they will nominate for the forth coming elections and ensure that card carrying members of political parties do not make it to the list.
“As in Previous elections, we have requested each University for a specified number of academic staff as contained in my letter to the Vice Chancellors. Staff who are card carrying members or have participated in partisan politics should not be nominated.” , he added.
He continued: “Similarly, those who may not be involved in partisan political activities but are known to have obvious political leanings should not be nominated. The Commission will carefully scrutinize the list which must be submitted confidentially in the manner prescribed by the Commission in my letter to the Vice Chancellors”.
The INEC Chairman explained that “collation of results will take place in 8,809 Registration Areas or Wards, 774 Local Government Areas and 36 States and the FCT. In addition, we require Returning Officers for the elections.
“For the 2019 General Elections, the Commission would require some 10,603 staff to support the various collation and declaration processes. It is for this reason that this meeting is of crucial importance. We need the support of universities to source the requisite number of interested academic staff on the understanding that this is essentially a national service,” the INEC Chairman said.
Responding on behalf of the Committee of Vice Chancellors, the VC Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola, Professor Mohammed Kyari, assured INEC and Nigerians that as conscientious academics, they are committed to the Nigerian project which includes the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.
He noted that holding such elevated status in the system comes with a high level of responsibility and stressed that the members of the academic community would give the Commission all necessary support to conduct elections that meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.
The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Rasheed, appreciated INEC for the confidence reposed on the Academia.
Professor Rasheed urged the VCs to uphold the tenants of professionalism and carry out the national assignment with utmost integrity.
He warned the VCs that they were all being monitored and are going to be in the spotlight in their roles in the electoral process. “save the system, save us, work with much credibility” he implored.
The NUC Executive Secretary also pledged the total commitment of the academic community to the cause of INEC.
The meeting was attended by about Vice Chancellors of many Federal Universities in the Country led by the Chairman of the Committee of the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Professor Joseph E. Ahaneku.