Prof Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the electoral body is sticking to its previous arrangement to pick collation and returning officers from the ivory tower.
He said that despite some unpalatable experiences, the commission will continue to rely on the academic staff of universities for the pool of personnel to handle some critical roles during elections.
“For the various collation and declaration centres, the Commission draws the required Collation and Returning Officers from the academic staff of our universities, including the Vice Chancellors who serve as Returning Officers for Governorship election and State Collation Officers for Presidential election.
“Despite a few challenges, this happy partnership has further enhanced the transparency and credibility of the elections in Nigeria as well as public confidence in the process”, stressed the INEC chairman at a meeting with Vice chancellors of Universities in Abuja.
He warned however that persons who are partisan and are known card-carrying members of political parties must not be nominated by their institutions to fill these important roles.
Those who have been convicted of electoral offenses are also excluded.
Prof Yakubu said the Commission will double check names of nominees to ensure the guideline are followed adding that those selected will swear an oath of neutrality.
“As in previous elections, we have requested each University for a specified number and category of academic staff as contained in my letter to the Vice Chancellors.
“I must warn that staff that are card-carrying members or have participated in partisan politics should not be nominated. Similarly, those who may not be involved in partisan politics but are known to have obvious political leanings should not be nominated. Those who have been convicted of electoral malpractice must be excluded.
“The commission will carefully scrutinise the list which must be submitted confidentially in the manner prescribed by the Commission in my letter to the Vice Chancellors.
“Like all election duty personnel, each Collation and Returning Officer will swear to an oath of neutrality”.