By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has issued a certificate of return to Udom Emmanuel, thus reaffirming his election for a second term in office as the governor of Akwa Ibom State.
Also issued with the certificates were 25 out of 26 members of the state House of Assembly, having been elected by the people of the state on March 9th governorship/state house assembly polls conducted by the commission.
Presenting the certificate, Mr. Mike Igini, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state said, the exercise marked the gradual closure of activities leading to the 2019 election.
Igini noted that although it was a serious task on the part of the commission to conduct polls in the state due to activities of some politicians in the state who were not happy with the commission avowed determination to deliver free, fair and credible elections in the state but through prayer to God, the success is made.
“No doubt, trying to conduct election in this state we faced a serious task of restoring the pride of an electoral institution, and the credibility of a national umpire. Looking back at the outcome of the presidential/National Assembly as well as the Governorship/State House of Assembly election in Akwa Ibom State under my watch, we can say with every sense of modesty that the Independent National Electoral Commission worked so hard to bring meaning and purpose to the ballot system. No more pre-writing of elections result, incidence of ballot box snatching and stuffing of thumb-printed ballot paper and same announced are now thing of the past.
“The 2019 election in Akwa Ibom marked paradigm shift, we stove to do what is right, to put INEC at the service of the electorate as the final determinant of leadership emergence in a democracy. This was at great risk to ourselves and loves one, we never compromised or surrendered our values but rather we prayed to God who gave us the grace and courage of conviction to be true to them,” Igini stated.
Giving reason to why no certificate of return was issued to member for Essien Udim State Constituency, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Igini, said reports from collation officers sent to the area stated that election results were signed under duress.
He said as such, the commission at the national level would handle the issue of the council area, adding that he has executed his job of carrying out elections in the state.
According to him, elections were cancelled in many wards in the area due to election malpractice and irregularities.
He expressed the readiness of the commission to defend itself at the tribunal should any politician will wish to challenge the conduct and result of the elections in the state, adding that every document is intact to show as evidence.
Governor Udom Emmanuel, who spoke on behalf of all recipients of the certificates of return, described their elections as a call to service to move Akwa Ibom state forward and never a time of self aggrandizement.
The Governor described the election in the state as one of the most peaceful and credible though there were pockets of problems.
“The election under the INEC REC, Barr Mike Igini was the best and one of the credible elections in Akwa Ibom state. The whole world knows who he is but the only regret is that most of those who know him have stood to demonize him. I think he is one of the best in the country.
Governor Emmanuel commended Mr. Igini for his efforts to ensure credible polls in the state despite the levels of blackmail meted against his person by some politicians in the state whose stock in trade was to perpetrate evil and described him as a valuable personality worthy of honour in the state and nationally.
He also lauded other staff of the commission as well as security agencies for their effort to ensure credible and peaceful elections in the state.
The Governor also thanked the people of the state for their love and for reelecting him for another term, and plagued his loyalty and that of the elected officials to the people, adding that they would not rest but work hard to ensure that the people were not disappointed for voting them.