Ahead of the February 25 and March 11 presidential, National Assembly and governorship and State Assembly elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has listed conditions for enlisting university lecturers as collation or returning officers.
According to INEC, one of such conditions is that none of lecturers to be drawn for election duties should be a card carrying member of any political party or have any political leaning.
Similarly, those who have been convicted of electoral malpractice are also excluded.
INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, gave the conditions while interacting with Nigerian university Vice Chancellors at the National Universities Commission (NUC) in Abuja.
He expressed the commission’s appreciation to the National Universities Commission (NUC), the regulator of university education in Nigeria, as well as the Committee of Vice Chancellors for their support, even as he noted that INEC cannot actualize it’s promise to conduct a free, fair and credible election without the contribution of Committee of Vice Chancellors
Yakubu disclosed that election duty staff would be drawn from products of the nation’s universities and polytechnics, as well as the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.
He added that for the various collation and declaration centres, the commission would draw the required Collation and Returning Officers from the academic staff of universities, including the Vice Chancellors who would serve as Returning Officers for governorship election and State Collation Officers for presidential election. Despite a few challenges,
Accordingly to the INEC chairman, “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.
“The 2023 general election will hold in 1,491 constituencies nationwide involving the Presidential, 28 Governorship, 190 Senatorial, 360 Federal and 993 State Constituencies. The 2023 General Election will involve the highest number of registered voters in the history of democratic elections in Nigeria. The final register of voters now stands at 93,469,008. Our final list also indicates that a total of 15,333 candidates have been nominated by the 18 political parties for the election.
“Collation of results will take place in 8,809 Registration Areas or Wards, 774 Local Government Areas, 36 States and the FCT. In addition, we require Returning Officers for each constituency. Put together, we will engage 23,258 personnel as Collation and Returning Officers. It is for this reason that this meeting is of crucial. We need the support of our universities to source the requisite number of suitably academic staff of impeccable integrity who must also understand that this is a call to national service.
“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 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 Commission always appreciates the support of the Vice Chancellors and the continuing partnership with the Federal universities, often under strenuous circumstances. We shall continue to work together in our collective effort to consolidate our democracy.”