By Ben Agande
ABUJAâ€” Major policy decisions may be announced today by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as the National Chairman of the Commission, Prof Attahiru Jega swears in 19 Resident Electoral Commissioners yesterday.
The ceremony which will be the first official function of the chairman and members of the INEC after their three-day retreat in Calabar is expected to provide the avenue for the commission to announce its policy thrust, especially as it prepares for a new voters’ register, as well as the next elections in January, 2011.
Although the spokesman of the INEC, Mr Emmanuel Umenger declined to confirm whether policy decisions would be made public today, he said it is not unlikely that the commission would use the opportunity of the swearing-in to address a â€˜whole lot of issues agitating the minds of Nigeriansâ€™.
According to sources in the commission, the swearing-in of the Resident Electoral Commissioners would afford the chairman ample opportunity to speak on the commissionâ€™s preparedness for the next elections, especially with the coming into effect of the new constitution.
Other issues which he might discuss include the reorganisation in the commission; the preparation for the new voters’ register; the revised time table for the conduct of the elections and other issues pertaining to the conduct of elections.
Vanguard gathered that in his determination to ensure that actions of the commission are insulated from interference from politicians as much as possible, the chairman and members of the commission have decided to involve as few staff of the commission as possible, especially when the commission is about to take sensitive decisions.
For instance, during the just concluded retreat of the commission in Calabar only about three civil servants were in attendance â€˜in order to keep as secret as possible, the decisions and deliberations at the meetingâ€™ a source at the commission told Vanguard.
Speaking with Vanguard, the INECâ€™s Director of Public Affairs, Mr Emmanuel Umenger cautioned that though â€˜I am certain the commission will come out with a statement on a whole lot of issues agitating the minds of Nigeriansâ€™ he cautioned that it is too early to speculate whether there would be announcement of policy decisions.
â€œI think it is better for us not to speculate on what the commission will say or not say tomorrow. As the Director of Public Affairs any decision the commission wants me to make public, I am told and I make it public appropriately. I have not been told that a policyÂ statement would be made today so I will advise that we wait till the chairmanâ€™s address instead of speculating on what will be saidâ€ he said.