By Nathaniel Gana
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has pledged that the Commission would leave no stone unturned in ensuring that elections met the yearnings and aspirations of citizens and the international community.
The INEC Chairman gave the assurance when he received the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Bernard Schlagbeck, at the Commission’s Headquarters in Abuja on 25th October.
He said: “We are fully conscious of our responsibilities and we conduct our elections in fairness to each and everyone in a very transparent manner, where the outcome of what we do will not be in doubt. In many of the developing countries and emerging democracies, a well conducted election makes the difference between civil war and peace.”
Prof. Yakubu expressed joy that the 15 countries in the ECOWAS sub-region for the first time were democracies, adding that the emergence of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commission (ECONEC), which he chairs, was poised to add value to the electoral systems in the sub region through support and experience sharing.
Enumerating some of the Commission’s gains through its partnership with Germany, he said INEC had enriched its experience through an Observation Mission to Germany, facilitated by its embassy in Abuja.
He told the envoy that the Commission had since begun the countdown to the 2019 general elections with preparations already in full gear. “We will show no partisanship to anyone or political party and the will of the people must always prevail when we conduct elections,” he assured.
Earlier, Mr. Schlagbeck noted that Nigeria had in the last couple of years been a catalyst for its “zero tolerance stance against unconstitutional attempts to seize power, remain in power or rig elections in Africa, particularly West Africa”. This achievement, he observed, had set a standard nobody would like to see frustrated or compromised.
Mr. Schlagbeck however pointed out that Nigeria’s leading role in entrenching democracy in Africa has also put a huge burden on the Commission which he described as the engine room of Nigeria’s democracy in its preparation for forth coming elections.
He said: “We are very much observing and witnessing what is going on here in Nigeria. Of course, given the ever changing political structure and nature of political completion, given the societal change, given the changes in the electoral framework, a shift in party configuration all leads to the conclusion that INEC is absolutely vital for Nigeria’s Democracy.”