The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday met with Collation and Returning Officers for the 2023 general elections to review issues regarding to the election results management.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, while addressing the officers at the post-election review meeting in Abuja, said the commission would like to hear their experiences on the field.
He said that the commission would also want to know what could be done to improve on the aspect of election result management.
Yakubu said that INEC was aware that as collation and returning officers, they worked under extremely challenging circumstances by tediously and manually completing designated forms as provided by law.
He added that the officers either moved the designated forms to the next level of collation or concluded the processes as returning officers.
“Many of you also have the cognate experience of result management, having served in similar capacities in at least three electoral cycles.
“The Commission appreciates your commitment, dedication to duty and sacrifice to the cause of our democracy.
“At the same time, issues have arisen and some Nigerians have raised concerns about result management at various levels.
“While some of the issues are subject of litigations and therefore subjudice, we can nevertheless discuss them broadly and most importantly share experience on the way forward.
“It is therefore the commission’s expectation that at this meeting, we will identify areas of strength and weaknesses as well as the necessary reforms that we need to introduce going forward,” Yakubu said.
He added that more specifically, INEC would want to hear their perspectives on the processes and procedures for recruitment, training and posting of collation and returning officers; logistics for movement to and from their places of assignment.
“The integrity of the collation and declaration procedure, including the application of the law, regulations and guidelines for result management;
“The role of technology in result management; Security of Collation/Returning Officers and the collation centres; and conduct of party agents and election observers during collation;
“Conduct of security personnel; and any other lessons that will improve the future collation and declaration of results, “ he said.
Yakubu described the meeting as important as it involved 37 State Collation Officers for the Presidential Election (SCOPEs), many of whom also doubled as Returning Officers for the 28 Governorship elections.
He said that for the legislative elections, INEC invited the Senatorial District Collation Officers across the six geo-political zones of the country, who also doubled as returning officers for senatorial elections.
“It is practically unmanageable to invite all the collation and returning officers for 1,462 federal and state constituencies made up of 109 Senatorial Districts as well as 360 Federal and 993 State Houses of Assembly constituencies.
“We therefore focused on the Senatorial Districts since they are bigger and cut across the other constituencies,” he said.
Yakubu reiterated that when the review engagements were exhausted, a comprehensive report would be prepared.
INEC had earlier met other stakeholders, including the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), Electoral Officers (EOs) and leadership of transport unions, who participated in the election.
Speaking in an interview with newsmen, the Vice Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof. Kabir Bala, who served as the State Retuning officer for Sokoto State, believed that the review would improve the future elections in the country.
Bala said that the review would help look at the hiccups that happened during the polls and the possible solutions.
He however said that for Nigeria to have better election there must be change of attitude by Nigerians as politicians and electorates.
Bala said that the politicians needed to change their attitude of “I must win at all costs” and those elected should be patriotic to serve, while the electorate must satisfy their conscience by voting for the best candidate in any election
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