By Ben Agande
ABUJAâ€”THERE was palpable anxiety in the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, weekend, as the Commissioner in Charge of Information and Publicity, Barr. Philip Umeadi took over as the Acting Chairman of the commission.
Vanguard gathered in Abuja that with Umeadiâ€™s takeover as the most senior of the only two commissioners left in the commission, staff who were seen to be â€˜Iwu boysâ€™ were having sleepless night as they felt that their days in the commission were being numbered. A source in the commission told Vanguard that because of the frosty relationship
between Umeadi and Iwu, it was most likely that some of Iwuâ€™s decisions would be reversed by the Acting Chairman in the next few days.
The source said: â€˜For instance, it is almost certain that the planned interview for applicants earlier scheduled for this weekend would be cancelled because the Acting Chairman stridently opposed the conduct of the interview at this time because he believed that the timing was wrong since Iwuâ€™s tenure was at its end. In fact he was said to have a memo to the former chairman conveying his opposition to the interview but professor Iwu ignored itâ€™
Vanguard further gathered that some of Iwuâ€™s personal aides whose appointment were converted to staff of INEC without proper procedure would certainly lose their jobs because apart from not following due process in employing them, the position they were given was not commensurate with their years of experience.
A staff of the commission told Vanguard: â€œFor instance, there is a particular deputy director who had never worked in any serious organization before Iwu appointed him not only as a deputy director but made him a head of department. Nobody could protest then because doing so would have earned one a sack and nobody was ready to be sacked.â€
Source of anxiety in INEC
Another source of anxiety is the creation of the office of three deputy secretaries to accommodate some staff of the commission who would have been retired from service as a result of the Federal Government policy that every director who had served for more than eight years should retire from service.
The offices created were Deputy Secretary, Publicity; Deputy Secretary, Administration and Deputy Secretary, Operation. Three directors who had serve as directors in the commission for more than fifteen years were appointed into the offices.
Already, there was confusion in the commission as the Acting Chairman had allegedly ordered some of the staff transferred out of the headquarters of the commission to report back to Abuja, ostensibly to take over their positions.
Six of such persons from Sokoto, Edo, Plateau and Ondo States, were sighted in the commission, Friday evening, and staff were seen in groups discussing the latest developments.
A staff of the commission confided in Vanguard that Umeadi was determined to bring in sanity â€œfor the period that he would act as the chairman,â€ adding that â€œt is an opportunity for him to correct the ills that he noticed and protested against without success when Iwu was the chairman. He knows the staff that had constituted themselves as cogs in the wheel of INECâ€™s progress and he will certainly call them to order.â€