Edo/Ondo Polls: Unethical And Corrupt Practices By Officials Will Not Be Tolerated – INEC

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Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared that it will not tolerate unethical and corrupt practices by election officials during the Edo and Ondo governorship polls on September 21 and November 16, 2024.

INEC chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu declared this at the annual Professor Abubakar Momoh Memorial Lecture, which the Electoral Institute (TEI) organised yesterday in Abuja
This year’s lecture was themed, “Achieving Professionalism among Election Personnel through Effective Training in Preparation for Edo and Ondo Off-cycle Governorship Elections.”

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Chukwuemeka Mbamala

Chukwuemeka Mbamala

Represented by the chairman of the Board of The Electoral Institute, Prof. Abdullahi Zuru, Yakubu said electoral officials should be guided by the principles of integrity, impartiality, transparency, professionalism, gender and disability sensitivity, and due consideration and support for the elderly, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs)

Yakubu emphasised that the personnel of the commission’s election officials should be knowledgeable, skilled and well-equipped with relevant competencies to handle the complexities and challenges of the electoral process.

He said the high professionalism among election personnel engendered by effective training cannot be overemphasised, adding that the crucial role of election personnel in upholding the integrity of democratic processes cannot be overstressed.

“To ensure the credibility and trustworthiness in our elections and build trust among the electorate, it is imperative that we prioritise the professional development of our election personnel. Consequently, the commission has always demanded that all election officials be punctual, courteous, polite and helpful.

“Voters are the masters and should be treated equally, decently and with utmost respect. Unethical and corrupt practices by election officials will not be tolerated and shall incur severe punishments under the law,” Yakubu said.
The professor of history and international relations insisted that achieving professionalism among election personnel was a critical step towards ensuring free, fair, credible and inclusive elections

He said INEC’s involvement in effective training programmes has empowered its staff to uphold the highest standards of integrity and professionalism to strengthen electoral processes and procedures to serve the interests of all Nigerians.

In his presentation, the guest lecturer and director of the MacArthur Foundation, Dr Kole Shettima, called for revamping the curricula for training election officials to include civic duties, the history of elections, democracy, integrity and accountability of election officials, the role of INEC, and credible elections, among other topics, in addition to the technical processes and procedures.

Shettima also recommended that physical screening be conducted before ad-hoc staff are recruited and deployed, as this will provide a more robust check against the recruitment and deployment of unqualified persons.

“It is advised to recruit in partnership with institutions instead of recruit as individuals.Ensure that recruited personnel possess the requisite educational qualifications. This will address challenges with a poor understanding of the electoral process and duties by ad-hoc staff.

“The pre- and post-screening test with a recommended pass rate should be administered to ensure that recruits for ad-hoc staff duty understand their duties and responsibilities adequately. Registration Area Centers should be opened early, and adequate security should be provided to protect sensitive and non-sensitive electoral materials and staff. Registration Area Centers should be made habitable.

“Adequate facilities, including lighting, mattresses, convenience, etc., should be provided at RACs. Adequate provisions for logistics should be provided. This should include logistics considerations that address the needs of physically challenged pregnant women, new mothers, and senior citizens. We should put mechanisms for assessing the quality of training of the Institute,” he added.

Earlier, the director-general of the Electoral Institute (TEI), Dr. Sa’ad Idris, said the forthcoming Edo and Ondo States governorship polls presented a significant opportunity to demonstrate INEC’s commitment to conducting free, fair, credible and inclusive elections.

Idris said it was INEC’s responsibility as an electoral management body (EMB) to ensure that the electoral process was conducted with utmost professionalism and integrity, which could only be achieved through rigorous training and continuous capacity building of election personnel.

He noted that the commission, in its stride to enhance the capacity and competencies of its personnel through the Electoral Institute, developed various programmes to enhance the capacity of its staff.

“The successes achieved by the commission in the recently conducted 2023 General Elections and other off-cycle governorship elections both in 2023 and 2024 bear credence to the fact that the investment made by the commission towards enhancement of the capacities of its trainers is a step in the right direction.

“Moreover, as we prepare for the 2024 Edo and Ondo State Off Cycle Governorship Elections, the Commission is assured that the outcome of effective training of Election personnel will manifest in a high level of professionalism in terms of efficient electoral service delivery, technical competence and capacity to handle various challenges that may arise in the course of the conduct of the Governorship Elections,” Idris added

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