The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned its electoral officers to refrain from activities that will tamper with the commission’s integrity.
Mahmood Yakubu, INEC’s chairman, said this on Thursday while swearing in 19 resident electoral commissioners (RECs) in Abuja.
According to TheCable, the commissioners comprise nine from the academia, six civil servants including retired permanent secretaries, two lawyers, an accountant, and a retired ambassador.
Fourteen of the RECs were fresh appointments while five were re-appointed for a second and final term.
While welcoming the commissioners, Yakubu reminded them of their service to Nigerians and charged them to remain non-partisan.
“As I welcome you to the commission, I urge you to settle down quickly and familiarise yourselves with the demands of your new responsibilities, always bearing in mind our commitment to free, fair, credible, transparent and verifiable elections,” he said.
“With exactly 113 days to the 2023 general election, we are aware that the task ahead of us is not easy but we must never disappoint Nigerians.
“Our loyalty is to Nigeria and our allegiance is to Nigerians. Only their votes should determine winners in the 2023 general election. Nothing more, nothing less. There should be no deviation from this path of honour and integrity.
“Over the years, the commission has worked tirelessly to reform the electoral process and introduce many innovations that are generally acknowledged to have improved the electoral process. In doing so, we will continue to acknowledge the sacrifice and dedication of our hardworking staff.
“As you are deployed to the states of the federation, you will be responsible for human and material resources. Work with the staff and be guided by the provisions of the law and our various regulations and guidelines.
“Furthermore, you will also interact with various stakeholders. You should maintain the established practice of consultation with them. However, in dealing with the general public, you should be guided by the provisions of the commission’s code of conduct.
“You should not be visitors to government houses and must never hold unofficial meetings with politicians, even after official working hours. All matters pertaining to official responsibilities should be conducted in the office attended by the relevant staff and properly documented.
“This is your best protection against mischief. Do not compromise the neutrality of the commission or create the perception of partisanship. In discharging your responsibilities, you must at all times be transparent and non-partisan while remaining firm and courageous.
“You owe nothing to any individual but owe everything to the Nigerian people. We must continue to ensure that the choices they make on election day prevail. It is their decision. We are only administering the process in trust supported by technology.”