Polls: INEC Set To Dump Lecturers, Plans On Using Staff As Returning Officers

BARRING any last-minute change, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will use its staff as Returning Officers for the 2023 polls instead of University lecturers as used in previous years.

A senior official of the Commission, who craved anonymity told News Point Nigeria that, so far nothing about the involvement of the lecturers is mentioned in INEC’s preparations for the polls

According to the source, “it’s almost 40 days to the election and there hasn’t been any kind of reach out or involvement plan for the lecturers by the commission. Usually, by now, a list of universities would have been drawn and letters sent, within weeks nominations will come in, and trainings and briefings will commence.

“By now, the universities would have sent names of senior staff to the Commission and these staff would be subjected to checks; none of them will know where he or she would be posted until a day to the election.  Only the INEC Chairman and his staff will know about the deployment but so far, nothing”, the source said.

The source added that, there will likely be two collation officers for each of the 8809 voting centres and each will be responsible for collating results for the presidential and national legislative elections to be held on the same day, 25th February.

”But, let’s wait and see, this year’s election plans are coming with a lot of surprises for everyone in the Commission. Maybe, the Chairman is just keeping that plan close to his chest”, the source concluded.

Speaking to News Point Nigeria on the issue, via a telephone conversation, the Gombe state gubernatorial returning officer for the 2019 polls, Professor Sammy Ibrahim AbdulRahman said, the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities nominates lecturers for the INEC election job but there hasn’t been an official correspondence on that till date.

“I am convinced the INEC Chairman will reach out to lecturers, he knows that the VCs are committed to the Nigerian project and free and fair elections. If you ask me, there is still time, the election is 40 days away”, he concluded.

News Point Nigeria recalled that, In September last year, the INEC Chairman disclosed that INEC would engage 1.4 million Ad hoc  staff for the conduct of the 2023 general polls.

He said: “For the 2023 General Elections, we will recruit and train staff with numbers several times more than the entire armed forces Of Nigeria. We will engage at least 1.4million Ad hoc staff and the staff are staff that would  be operating in the polling units level, collation and returning officers.”

“1.4million is bigger than the Nigerian Armed Forces.  That is what we are going to deploy twice for the February 25 national election and for the states elections which include the governorship and State Assembly. 

“We are going to manage 21,520 positions in 2023-the President and Vice President, 28 governors, 28 Deputy Governors, 109 Senators, 360 members of the House of Representatives,  993 State Constituencies for which elections would be conducted. So it’s a huge undertaking. We have 18 political parties. 

“There are 15 countries in West Africa, including Nigeria.  Excluding Nigeria, the voter population in other 14 countries as at last year was 73 million. The voter population in Nigeria as at 2019 was 84 million. So there are 11million more voters than all the other 14 countries combined.

 “Each time Nigeria goes to the polls, is like the entire West Africa voting. This would give you an idea of the size of what we are facing. 1.9million registered voters registered for the last Osun governorship election.

“That was more than the total population of the Republic of Gambia, Guinea Bissau and  Cape Verde put together. By the time you talk about Lagos, you are talking about several countries combined. 

“It is the accumulation of these complexities that INEC must manage, and administer as we approach the 2023 General Election commencing on February 25”. 

News Point Nigeria reports that, INEC inaugurated members of the National Situation Room and Collation Centre for the 2023 General Polls and the list doesn’t include university lecturers as it used to be.

The members are Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu, National Commissioner – Chairperson; Prof. Abdullahi Abdu Zuru, National Commissioner – Member; Barr. Festus Okoye, National Commissioner – Member; Director, Electoral Operations – Member; Director, ICT – Member; Director, Planning and Monitoring – Member; Director, Security – Member; Director, Election & Party Monitoring – Member;  Director, International Cooperation & Protocol – Member; Director, Research – Member; Director, Health Services – Member; Director, Estate, Works and Transport – Member; Chief Technical Adviser to the Chairman – Member.

Others are Special Adviser to the Chairman – Member; Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman – Member; and Director, Commission Secretariat – Member/Secretary.

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