21 January 2020
Two new Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) were today sworn in at the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) headquarters in Abuja. They are Dr Alalibo Sinikiem Johnson from Bayelsa State and Mr. Umar Mukhtar Gajiram from Bornu State.
Johnson holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Political Science. He also possesses a Master’s degree and doctorate in Peace and Conflict Studies. Until his appointment, he was a Lecturer at the Niger Delta University in Bayelsa State. He is replacing the former REC of Cross River State, Dr. Briyai Frankland who left the Commission in August 2019.
Gajiram holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master’s degree in Public Administration. He served in various capacities in the Bornu State Civil Service until his retirement as a substantive Director. He replaces the former REC of Taraba State, Alhaji Baba Abba Yusuf who died in September 2019.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu told the new RECs that they will henceforth be responsible for implementing the Commission’s policies. According to him, the RECs will also exercise supervisory control over personnel, resources, legal and administrative processes in the states to which they are deployed. In doing so, Prof. Yakubu noted, they must maintain the required openness while at the same time be very firm in the discharge of their responsibilities.
Prof. Yakubu informed them to be ready for deployment to any part of the country at any time the exigencies of service so require. They will however never serve in their states of origin throughout their five-year tenure.
The INEC Chairman continued: “Your deployment today is coming just three days to the conduct of several re-run elections by court order. On Saturday this week, elections will hold in 28 constituencies spread across 11 States of the Federation. Six of these elections involve entire constituencies while 22 elections will be held only in some polling units.
“In all the constituencies, the elections will be contested by the same political parties and candidates that participated in the 2019 general election except where the elections were nullified on grounds of candidate disqualification. The two affected constituencies are Gamawa Federal Constituency in Bauchi State and Agwara State Constituency in Niger State where elections will be held without the candidates and parties that were declared winners in the general election.
“There will be no substitution of candidates as these are not bye-elections but court-ordered re-run elections and the period for nomination of candidates had lapsed since the end of 2018 in preparation for the 2019 general election.”
Prof Yakubu assured Nigerians of the Commission’s readiness for the re-run elections. He said: “All sensitive and non-sensitive materials have been deployed to the States. Stakeholders’ meetings have been held, security arrangements are being finalised while training and posting of ad hoc staff as well as the configuration of Smart Card Readers are ongoing. Where the elections involve entire constituencies, National as well as some Resident Electoral Commissioners will be deployed.
“The Commission will work with the security agencies to ensure adequate protection of election officials, accredited observers, the media and the processes generally against acts inimical to the conduct of peaceful and credible elections.
“We have received assurances from the security agencies of adequate protection of the processes in line with the rules of engagement for election duty.”
Johnson was deployed to Cross River State while Gajiram was posted to Taraba State.