56-year-old Kenneth Ukeagu is a bureaucrat, expert and committed electoral engineer who has put in his best to plant fair, honest and technology driven electoral process in Nigeria.
As a staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Ken as he is popularly called is apolitical – he is neutral and has no political interest and his appointment is of national interest.
Mr Ukeagu is a man of character and principles; a man of vision; a detribalised Nigerian; a thorough bred disciplinarian; humane and believes in well-being of others; as well as highly innovative, mobile and hardworking and apolitical.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment Mr Ukeagu, among the latest appointee National Commissioners of INEC, is the first that a serving or even retired staff of the Commission will be so appointed.
This appointment did come as a surprise because Mr Ukeagu, from Abia state, aside being a sociologist, has acquired many training in electoral management both within and outside Nigeria, including in the US, the bastion of democracy.
His career in INEC spans over 30 years, cutting his teeth as a member of
National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in the Commission from where he rose through the ladder and thick and thin to become an electoral manager especially in electoral logistics having worked as Electoral Logistics Officer at the INEC Headquarters, Abuja.
He was Director Logistics in the Electoral Operations and used his technical experience and electoral managerial skills to assist in to ensure smooth conduct of general elections in 2011, 2015, and 2019 and currently Director of procurement.
To his credit, Mr Ukeagu developed logistics plans for procurement and delivery of materials required for electoral activities including those used in 2003 general elections.
He also developed transportation plan for a nationwide deployment of men and materials for the conduct of voters; registration exercise and 2003 General Elections as well as supervised the implementation of logistics plans on procurement of Electoral materials; and deployment of men and materials.
Designed Ballot Papers and Result Sheets used for the conduct of the 2007 General Elections, successfully handled deployment of men and materials for the 2007 General Elections and developed Advisory Architecture for securing men and materials deployed for the 2007, 2010 and 2013 General Elections.
He introduced customization of Ballot Papers and Result Sheets deployed for the 2011 and 2015 General Elections. This Innovation reduced the time spent in result management at the end of Poll as well as cost of these materials as they were produced to reflect the actual number of Political Parties participating in the Elections;.
Peeping through his plethora of achievements, some members of staff of INEC say that an experienced election manager, Mr Ukeagu will bring his wealth of experience and knowledge in election Logistics and procurement of election materials at a right time to ensure delays in procurement of election materials are avoided, which most times results in rescheduling of election dates.
Rescheduling of general election dates, which are usually fixed over one year before time will become a thing of the past as he will press on other members of the Commission who though, are experts in their various field of endeavour, but lack electoral logistics management experience, to follow dates for each activities as scheduled.
As a guru in election logistics management, future elections in the Commission are hoped for the better, they say.
He is expected to bring a lot of changes in the management of elections as he will not only be part of implementers of the Commission’s activities and programmes but as part of Policy makers.
No doubt, this appointment is a morale booster and hope rising for the staff of INEC, to continue to put in their best in the service of the Commission.
His appointment in unique, and has been seen that President Buhari hit the bull’s-eye preparatory to the 2023 general elections. The president also set a precedent with the appointment as it was the first time an INEC employee would be appointed into the exalted position.
Choice of Ukeagu
The nomination of Ukeagu is greeted with commendations.
Nigerians in Diaspora for Good Governance (NDGG) says the appointment marks the beginning of transparency and honesty in the electoral system.
The International Coordinator of NDGG, Dr Alex Nwachukwu, says Mr Ukeagu will inspire confidence in the 2023 general elections.
The National Chairman, Conference of Civil Societies (CCS), Prof. Adam Shobowale, says Mr Ukeagu’s appointment as one of the National Commissioners of INEC is well-conceived.
“He has seen it all in INEC and I expect that he is a round peg in a round hole. He is an expert who should be encouraged,’’ he said.
“He will serve as a balancing force in the system. While other will be looking at things from political angle, Ukeagu will devote to neutrality and spur more tolerable decision.’’
Dr Andrew Asemota, the National Coordinator of NVNS, said that election management required special skills, innovation and vast experience and knowledge that will assist the process being driven by non-professionals.
“You cannot know more than the person who has been in the scheme and system for more than 30 years,’’ he said.
With less than 14 months into the very important general elections, the likes of Ukeagu are needed to boost the system and ensure hitch-free conduct and time is too short to appoint people who have no adequate electoral and election experience, especially in the logistics in which Ken is well grounded, he said.
According to Mr Alex Ibrahim, Kaduna-based Influencer and political analyst, we should see this singular appointment as neutral, devoid of political and ethnic encumbrances.
“With this we move on in the right direction.’’