By; SUNDAY ODE, Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday swore in six new federal commissioners for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, with a charge to them to be firm and fair in the discharge of their assignments.
Speaking after administering the oath of office on the new commissioners at the Aso Council Chamber in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the President pointed out that his administration was concerned about integrity of the electoral process, and demanded that they should be firm and fair so that posterity would judge them fairly.
Buhari also urged the commissioners to be concerned about the carnage and buying of votes that had characterized some of the recently held elections in the country with a view to doing something to correct the anomalies.
He said: “You are coming on board at a critical time of our political development. I am sure you have truly observed the bye-elections from Kogi to Bayelsa, Rivers, Edo and Ondo. I am sure you are even concerned about the carnage in some of the elections and the resources dissipated.
“This administration is extremely concerned about the integrity of the electoral processes. You are people of great integrity known throughout the country.
“This administration will demand of you to be firm and fair. What this administration expects is that after we have gone, Nigerians will read the political history and know that we served Nigeria.”
Accordingly, President Buhari urged INEC to ensure that Nigerians judiciously used their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and the card reader machine in their quest to elect candidates of their choice in subsequent elections.
Responding on behalf of the other five commissioners, Okechukwu Ibeano while thanking the President and the Nigerian people for the opportunity to serve, pledged that they would discharged their duties responsibly.
“We seek the support and prayers of the government and people of Nigeria so that we can discharge our functions to the best of our abilities and contribute to improve the advances and achievements that have been recorded in our electoral processes so far,” he stated.
Meanwhile, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu has vowed that the electoral body would not succumb to any blackmail or allegations but would remain focus in delivering on its mandate.
The INEC boss made the declaration at the Presidential Villa in an interview with State House correspondents after the swearing-in of the six new commissioners by President Buhari.
Fielding questions on the sundry allegations against the electoral body, especially by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, Prof. Yakubu dismissed them as familiar refrain, saying that INEC would do what I had to do in Rivers by moving in, conducting elections and declaring results, and leaving the judiciary to handle the aftermath.
“INEC is poised to consolidate on the achievements of the 2016 elections. We wouldn’t be distracted by the allegations, we’d do what we have always done to the best of our ability bearing in mind that we have a responsibility to the Nigerian nation. We would go to Rivers, conduct free, fair and credible elections, declare winners and leave the next level to the judiciary.
“However, there is nothing new that we are going to do in Rivers beyond what we’ve always done. Votes must count because ultimately it is the people of Rivers that will determine who will become their senators, members of the House of Representatives and the members of the state assembly.
“We want to pledge to Nigerians that we will never falter in that responsibility. We’ll continue to discharge our responsibilities according to the law and the constitution of this country,” according to Prof. Yakubu.