*As PDP boycotts sendforth ceremony
By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
THE immediate past Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, in Akwa Ibom state, Barr. Mike Igini has against the posting out of the states Commissioners of Police and Heads of other security agencies out six months to the conduct of general election in the country.
Igini made the remark in Uyo, in his “thank you farewell’ speech presented on the occasion of the end of his tenure as a Resident Electoral Commissioner, held Friday August, 12, 2022.
He recalled how some influential politicians in the state had demanded for his redeployment ahead of 2019 election because the commissíon under his watch prevented them from rigging election like in the past, by identifying and relocating all polling units from the private home among other bold actions taken.
His words: “During my tour of the 31 Local government areas to assess the state of the offices and take stock of materials, we found that of all the 31LGAs, only in Essien Udim and Obot Akara that all PVCs of the two LGAs were collected 100 percent without credible records of those who collected them.
“That raised red flag about these two local government areas that turned out to be the most difficult LGAs during the 2019 election where terrible things occurred. The distraction was massive and total with calls for my redeployment from the state to pace way for a return to the old ways of arbitrary writing of election results.
“These influential politicians have caused to be redeployed from this state over seven Commissioners of Police and Heads of other security agencies that were unwilling to be part of the process of subverting the 2019 election. This practice should not be allowed to happen as we approach the 2023 election.
“Commissioners of police and heads of other security agencies should not be posted of the states six months to the conduct of general election, so that they can know the personnel in their command and have sufficient knowledge and understanding of their various commands”
The former REC, however, assured that the introduction of innovations such as the Biomodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) has put an end to the criminal conduct of ware-housing, buying and selling of PVCs, use of incident form, and thumb printing of ballots.
He however regretted that as INEC innovates to improve the process of acquiring power through peaceful and credible elections, there were people who still crave for an unequal edge and asymmetric power over others in the society.
“That is why names of those who won valid party primaries elections are substituted for those who did not participate in primaries monitored by the election management body.
“As we prepare for the 2023 elections, the people of Akwa Ibom and Nigerians must stand up and not be overwhelmed by the forces that seek to decay democracy in our country.
“Looking back at the last five years as I take bow today from INEC and say goodbye, we can say with every sense of modesty that the Independent National Electoral Commission under Professor Mahmood Yakubu has worked so hard to expand radius and frontiers of credible elections for the sustenance of our democracy.
“I want to sincerely thank president Muhammadu Buhari for the opportunity to serve and of being part of the collective effort to give meaning and purpose to the ballot as the best means o of the expression of the will of the people in a democracy.
“My immeasurable thanks goes to the Chairman of the commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, a scholar of remarkable prowess, for his leadership and protection at my greatest moment of danger and vulnerability for standing tall in defense of democracy and the rule of Law before 2019 general election and up till this moment.
“As I bid you all farewell, staff and the good people of Akwa Ibom State,be assured that wherever I am, whatever I do, I am with you. Whenever you do the right thing by adhering to the template of electoral integrity that we have developed and built together to make votes count and taken into account, I am head and hearty with you”
Meanwhile, apart from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Chieftains of registered opposition parties in the state were represented at the sendforth ceremony to bid him farewell.
In his goodwill message, the governorship candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party, (NNPP), Senator John James Akpanudoedehe thanked Igini for changing the narrative in the state, stressing that if Igini was in Akwa Ibom in 2021 he would have won the 2011 governorship contest.
Akpanudoedehe, a former Chieftain of APC before his defection to the NNPP recently said: “You are the first REC that has given opposition parties in Akwa Ibom State opportunity to step their foot into the office of INEC. Let it be on record. And you defeated that wicked theory from the pit of hell that what money cannot do, more money will do.
“All state Chairmen, members of opposition parties are here. But those in PDP who are beneficiaries of the credible election you conducted are not here Barr Mike Igini you are an honest man. We are here to send you forth because we love you. As you are leaving, we are praying God to send your kind to Akwa Ibom”
Similarly, members of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), assured him that they would not take for granted that sense of belonging he gave to them in the state.
On his part, the guber candidate of African Democratic Congress (ADC) Arc. Ezekiel Nya-Etok said, “As you leave today I pray that God takes you to where you never expected, and that this nation realises your worth. We need people like you in Nigeria. I want you to know that the whole of Akwa Ibom State is grateful to you”