By Andy Esiet, Calabar
The Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in Cross River state has charged the federal government to elevate staff of INEC with proven integrity to higher positions of responsibility as part of strategy to strengthen the country’s electoral process.
It is reported that the Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) in charge of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Mike Igini and Sokoto Abubakar Musa Sadiq and few others may not participate in the 2023 general elections as their tenure as REC expires this 2022.
In a telephone interview in Calabar on the issue of electoral act and others, the Chairman of IPAC in the state, Amb. Ogar Osim said that it is proper for the federal government to maintain and elevate various staff of INEC that have proven integrity in sustaining a credible election in the country as they will help in no small measure in a free and fair election we have been clamouring for.
He said, “I believe if anybody has served the country well and if the Constitution allows for such an individual to be given another opportunity, then such should be given the opportunity. We are praying for credible persons and good people to serve at various sectors so if we have identified such individuals and the constitution allows, they should be given that opportunity except for a situation where the Constitution does not allow”.
He said even though “there is a saying that one man’s food is another man’s poison, we might judge them righteous but we don’t know what others think about them, especially those who have the power to say yes or no to their tenure extension but we as IPAC, we advice that those with proven integrity that are tested and trusted to deliver free and fair elections should be given more opportunities to serve within the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
Osim stated that more and more good people should be encouraged to serve in INEC and “we have more good people in Nigeria than bad people. I have travelled and lived in countries like South Africa for about 13 years where I studied all that.
“I have interacted with more than 21 countries of the world and I can tell you that there is more of good people in Nigeria, it is just few people that are trying to give us the bad name. There should be willingness to give these people the opportunity to serve even in a higher capacity and we pray that God should touch the hearts of our leaders to encourage more good people” .
On the two professors in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state indicted for electoral offences recently, the IPAC Chairman said, “so long as they have been proven within the Constitution to fraud against such state and if a competent court of law has proven that they are guilty and liable to go to prison, we cannot challenge the Constitution because we all adopted the Constitution to guide us.
“We also advice that our Judiciary should be fair and ensure that their judgment is right because if they cannot account to man, they will still account to God and certainly they cannot escape when He is involved and i know God is watching everything we are doing in this country and at the appropriate time, they will start to account for their actions”.
Commenting on the issue of rigging assisted by some corrupt police officers and INEC personnel , he said “with the electoral reform, which we believe that once it is signed by the President, will be upheld by all stakeholders and we believe that will check the activities of INEC, the police, and politicians. Some people believe it is politicians that pay bad boys to highjack ballot boxes but with the electoral reform, if it is implemented and upheld by all stakeholders, we believe that this issue of electoral malpractice will also be addressed”.
On the Electoral Act just passed concerning party primaries, Osim said, “y advice is that politicians should respect the Constitution and they should know that it is supreme at all times and they should always rely on their internal party democracy. Any politician who joins a certain political party means he has accepted to go by the rules and codes guiding that party. So when you grow strong and then contest elections and begin to see yourself bigger than the party that has given you that platform, I feel it is wrong.
“So politicians should at all times, abide by the party’s Constitution and they should also abide by party internal mechanism because in a situation where politicians are given a platform and opportunity to rise and then they later turn back to play down on the Constitution of that very party that helped you to grow, I feel it’s wrong”.