By Bassey Bassey
Uyo – Mr Mike Igini, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Akwa Ibom, has advised staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to work hard to earn public trust ahead of 2019 elections.
Igini gave the advice in Uyo at the end of a tour of INEC local government offices in the state.
The REC, who reported for duty in the state in September, noted it had been observed all over the country that the electorate do not trust INEC staff, adding that this situation was worrisome.
“Before my posting to this state, the commission has been doing so much in the course of preparing for the 2019 elections.
“I have now come to join all of you to help make that preparation. There is need for change or re-orientation of mindset of staff as it will no longer be business as usual.
“No election can be credible where people believe that votes are sold and bought and election outcomes do not reflect the wishes of the people as expressed at the polling units.
“INEC staff must earn public trust and confidence, as these are bedrock principles that underpin a credible electoral process.”
Igini advised urged all staff members to create and sustain an environment of trust, openness and inclusiveness.
“The perception of impartiality on the part of INEC staff lends credibility to the commission and the electoral process.”
He said that his tour of the 31 local government area offices of INEC had helped to acquaint him with the staff and their working environment.
The REC stressed that staff members were the most critical asset of the commission and emphasised the need for them to demonstrate competence, impartiality and neutrality in the elections.
“I have toured the entire local government areas and today, Uyo, which is the state capital and the biggest with 175 polling units is the grand finale of the tour.
“And having gone round the 31 local government areas, I have been impressed by what I have seen since Oct. 30 that the tour commenced.”
He observed that though some areas had challenges in terms of physical infrastructure, the state was blessed with good road networks.
Receiving the INEC Commissioner, the Uyo local government Electoral Officer, Mr Onyemaeze Mba, complained of poor facilities in the office and appealed for urgent repairs or replacement.
Mba, who was represented by the assistant Electoral Officer, Mr Sebastian Etefia, explained that the office had no electricity for over eight years, following disconnection due to unpaid bills.
The electoral officer further said that poor work environment had resulted in truancy as staff members had no desks to enable them to settle down and perform their duties responsibly.
“The office has remained without electricity since 2009 when the Power Holding Company cut the light because of outstanding unpaid bills.
“There are no furniture for staff to use and no borehole for water supply. The office has an uncompleted fence, the doors to the offices are all in a deplorable condition.
“The office building needs a facelift. As INEC office in the state metropolitan town, it should ordinarily serve as an annex to the commission’s state Headquarters office,” the electoral 0fficer said.