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Festus Okoye Assumes Duty As 12th National Commissioner

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Source: INEC Newspaper
 By Dominic James.
President Muhammadu Buhari this morning performed the swearing-in ceremony of the 12thand last National Commissioner (NC) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). He is Mr. Festus Okoye, a lawyer, human rights activist and an expert in constitutional and electoral law.
Two new Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) were also sworn-in some hours later by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja. They are Mr. Ahmad Bello Mahmud, also a lawyer and Mr. Garba Attahiru Madami, a retired public servant and lecturer.
With this development, the Commission now has the full complement of 12 NCs and 35 RECs.
At the brief but colourful ceremony witnessed by family members and friends of the new appointees, Prof. Yakubu announced that Madami will take charge as the new REC for Kwara State, while Mahmud will resume in Kebbi State.
But he quickly added: “As you assume duty immediately, let me remind you that you are responsible for the management of personnel, materials and resources in your States of posting. You will also interact with various stakeholders. In discharging your responsibilities, you must at all times be open, transparent and non-partisan while remaining firm and courageous.
“You must quickly familiarise yourselves with the relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the Commission’s plans, guidelines and regulations as well as established processes and procedures.
“On the practical side of your work, you must immediately interact with your staff and pay attention to their welfare, visit the Local Government offices in your States and assess the various facilities and critical requirements for the 2019 general elections, ranging from the recruitment and training of ad hoc staff, logistics and more.
“Within the confines of the law, I encourage you to be imaginative in responding to the needs of the electorate and adding value to the electoral process. In doing so, always seek for clarification and, where necessary, the approval of the Commission. I wish to assure you that your supervising National Commissioners and the Headquarters will always support you to deliver on the Commission’s core mandate of service to Nigerians.”
Prof. Yakubu further explained that only last week, the Commission released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for four bye-elections, following declaration of vacancies by the National Assembly and the Cross River State House of Assembly.
He stated that after fixing Saturday 11th August 2018 for the bye-elections, the Commission also received additional declaration of vacancies from the Rivers State House of Assembly, in respect of Port Harcourt III State Constituency and the Taraba State House of Assembly for Takum I State Constituency.
His words: “Since the law requires the Commission to conduct the elections within one month from the declaration of vacancy, the bye-elections in Rivers and Taraba States will be held simultaneously on Saturday 18th August 2018. The Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the two elections will be released tomorrow (Thursday 26th July) after the weekly Commission meeting. With this development, the Commission will be conducting six bye-elections before the Osun State Governorship election scheduled for 22 September 2018.”
He told the new RECs to prepare for immediate practical immersion in the conduct of elections. “The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Kwara State will be deployed to Kogi State to observe the Lokoja/Kogi-Koton Karfe Federal Constituency bye-election, while that of Kebbi will be deployed to observe the Katsina North Senatorial bye-election,” he affirmed.
Prof. Yakubu also spoke on preparations for the Osun governorship election on September 22. He averred that nomination of candidates closed on 24th July in line with the Timetable and Schedule of Activities released by the Commission in October last year. He also revealed that 48 political parties have nominated candidates for the election.
Madami, who spoke on behalf of his colleague, assured the Commission that they would protect its integrity and live up to expectations.

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