By Chinwe Ogbuka, Assistant Director, Publicity, INEC.
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has advised Ambassador Rufus Oloruntoyin Akeju to be diplomatic in handling stakeholders as he assumes office as Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC).
Speaking at a swearing –in ceremony held at the INEC Headquarters in Abuja on 18th January, Prof. Yakubu reminded Akeju that as a REC, “you will interface with diverse stakeholders and as a Diplomat, you should have a very diplomatic way of handling the stakeholders.”
The INEC Chairman said with Akeju’s swearing-in, the number of RECs now stands at 26, adding that there were 11 outstanding names with the National Assembly for confirmation.
The Chairman also noted that the new REC was coming at a time when the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 General Elections had just been released. He urged Akeju to study the document diligently.
“You will be deployed to any state within your zone, but you will not be deployed to your state of origin. You will be in charge of human and material resources. For an election to be credible, you have to be fair to all the people around you,” the Chairman added.
He said Akeju was assuming duty at the beginning of the first quarter of Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise in the year and urged him to ensure that no citizen of the state is disenfranchised.
After taking his oath of office that was administered by the Director, Legal services, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Babalola, Akeju commended the sterling qualities and exemplary leadership of Prof. Yakubu since his assumption of office as Chairman of INEC.
The new REC noted that his journey from nomination to appointment, which culminated in his swearing-in as Resident Electoral Commissioner “has been quite long and needlessly torturous.”
Akeju, who at different times served as REC for both Oyo and Osun States said, “I hereby pledge, as always, to discharge my responsibilities with integrity, patriotism, impartiality, transparency and without fear or favour.’
He reiterated his commitment to the stability of a democratic culture in Nigeria, which he noted would be achieved through the conduct of free, fair, peaceful and internationally acceptable standard of electioneering that INEC stands for. He said: “With this in mind, I shall be guided at all times by the highest standard of the operational ethics the Commission has set for itself and for which it is well known.”
He promised to ensure openness, honesty of purpose whilst providing level playing grounds for all stakeholders in his socio-political engagements with people of diverse socio-political leanings in his areas of responsibility.
The REC also pledged his cooperation to advancing the core functions of the Commission to meet-up with the international standard of electioneering saying, “it shall be my sole objective to bring honour and prestige to the Commission and make it an institution every Nigerian will be proud of.”
National Commissioners present at the swearing-in ceremony included, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, Prof. Antonia T. Okoosi-Simbine, Air Vice Marshal Ahmad T. Mu’azu (Rtd), Dr. Adekunle L. Ogunmola, Mohammed K. Haruna, Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu and Alhaji Baba Shettima Arfo and Secretary to the Commission, Mrs. Augusta C. Ogakwu,