The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has visited the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, and also delivered the 6th Convocation Lecture of the Oduduwa University.
The theme of the lecture is “The Challenges and Prospect of Leadership Recruitment for Good Governance in Nigeria’’.
During the courtesy visit, the Ooni appealed to Nigerians to support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the conduct of free, fair, credible and peaceful elections in 2019.
The Ooni, who received a delegation of INEC led by Prof. Yakubu, in Ile Ife assured the commission of the support of traditional rulers and appealed to the youths to shun violence and join hands to make the work of INEC easier.
His Imperial Majesty expressed appreciation for the visit and said: “We feel very delighted and very honoured that you find it very honourable to visit us in Ife and the throne of Oduduwa. I thank God for your life and we will be praying for you.’’
“I assure you that everyone in the Kingdom of Ife will continue to pray for you because you want things to be done well. We told you that all will be well in Osun Governorship election, we assured you that things will go very well and things went well. I want to let you know that the throne of Oduduwa played that role to be neutral,” he added.
Oba Ogunwusi reminded the Chairman to be steadfast and resolute because in order to overcome the tension that will be focussed on him in a few months.
“‘God Almighty will help you carry it. You will be the most populous person in the whole black world. We will continue to remember you for good in all you do,’’ he assured the INEC boss.
The Oba said he was confident that the 2019 general elections would be conducted peacefully and Prof. Yakubu’s name would be written in stone.
‘We will continue to support you because you cannot do it alone. God will help you.’’
“It is a great privilege to have you in Ife to give a lecture and in the Palace. Ife as Kingdom is full of spirituality and the unseen spirit will be guiding you to do the things right. Unseen spirit will continue to be with you and all INEC staff.’’
The Royal Father made a passionate appeal to Nigerians to go out and collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) which is the power to vote adding ‘that is the power in your hand, not power of gun, matches, tools of destruction. Let us work with INEC and make their job simple. Nigeria is greater than all, let us join hands to do things in an orderly manner.’
The Oba urged the youths not to allow themselves to be used as instrument of destruction by politicians.
“You are youth today, tomorrow you will be old. What will you tell your children? Go out and pick your PVCs. You have only three months and five days to the election.’’
He ended on prayer note for the country: “ God bless Nigeria, the unity of our country is in our hands. God bless INEC and the officials.’’
INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu, who is also the Chairmen of Election Commissions in West Africa, thanked the Ooni for the role he played during the Osun governorship election, especially his appeal to political parties to maintain the peace.
The Chairman appealed to the Ooni to pray for the nation for peaceful conduct of 2019 General Elections and also to appeal to political parties and their supporters to maintain peace all over the country.
In his lecture at Oduduwa University, Ile-Ife, Prof. Yakubu explained that although a lot of work needs to be done, the Commission has improved on the deployment of personnel for elections.
The commission, he said had also addressed some of the challenges to the functionality of technological innovations for elections and able to collate, transmit and declare results of the elections more accurately and speedily.
He stated that in spite of the improvement in the process, the “do or die’’ mentality of some political class was a major challenge.
““Do or Die” mentally of some members of the political class that election must be won at all cost remains a major source of concern as we approach the 2019 elections.
“Many of our political actors are yet to imbibe the true spirit of democracy which is not just about access to elective and non-elective offices in government by all means. Respect for the process is the hallmark of a democrat. Democracy and democrats are two sides of the same coin and one cannot exist without the other.
“Vote-buying is another growing epidemic. Voter-inducement at polling units in some of the recent elections constitute a violation of our laws. This conduct is out-rightly illegal and a clear threat to efforts at entrenching credible elections.
“The Commission has responded by re-examining the configuration and administration of the polling units on election day in order to make it difficult for the voter to expose the marked ballot paper between the voting cubicle and the ballot box.
“In furthermore, we have recently introduced restriction on the use of mobile phones and other photographic devices by voters I the cubicles.
“Similarly, we are working with other relevant security and other relevant agencies for enforcement of the law against vote buying in particular and violations of campaign finance in general. All these will be vigorously enforced in the General Elections.
He also identified the lack of internal democracy within political parties as another problem.
“This is of great concern to the Commission rancorous primaries within political parties has already resulted in a plethora of unprecedented pre-election litigations.
“So far, the Commission has been joined in 273 court actions. With 32 petitions and 220 request for Certified True Copies of Documents from aggrieved aspirants, the number of litigations will rise higher. Under the extant laws, pre-election cases can go up to the Supreme Court.
“Apart from the cost to the Commission of legal representation n these cases, the possibility of nullification and consequent court-ordered re-run of elections after the 2019 General Elections is high.’’
Incendiary speech, he said remains a worrisome issue. “Already, the atmosphere is getting charged. Campaign for Presidential and National Assembly elections will commence on 18th November 2018 which is just three days away’’.
The Commission shares the view of the majority of Nigerians that campaigns should focus on issues that will positively transform the candidates and their supporters.
On security, he said that election must take place in all parts of Nigeria.
“Credible elections must be inclusive. Citizens have the right to free choice on election day irrespective of their views or other circumstances such as physical challenge or displacement arising from insecurity.
“Election security is beyond the responsibilities and capabilities of INEC. While we focus on our well-publicised processes and procedures during elections, the Commission will continue to engage with various.’’
In spite of the challenges, he said that the “we are determine to leave no stone unturned’’.
“We know that INEC alone cannot do the job. So we are counting on the goodwill and collaboration partnership of other stakeholders.’’
Prof. Yakubu advised citizens not only to support the conduct of peaceful election but to come out and collect their PVCs.