A former Resident Electoral Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini has said local attacks on offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission will not change the outcome of the 2023 general elections.
INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, on Friday, stated that from 2019 to date, 50 incidents had been recorded in 15 states. The sponsors of the recent attacks are “failed politicians” and secessionists in the South-East and South-West, according to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba Alkali.
“No amount of attacks will change what will happen in 2023,” Igini said during a live appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday. “In any case, beyond the conspiracy theories, these are not new to us as a people. Regrettably, it would appear that violence has become part of our electoral process. It’s a shame to the political elite of our country.”
The former REC reiterated a recent assertion by the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor that the military would resist pressure “from all quarters” to compromise the 2023 elections. On the backdrop of his 10 years’ experience with INEC, Igini described politicians as “the greatest threat to our democracy.”
“We have this saying that land disputes usually start at the beginning of the farming season. This is where we are at the moment. This is the period of campaigns. I think that the CDS is obviously leveraging the message of Mr President, and this is very encouraging.
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“If you remember, the suppression of democratic apparati in the past was usually initiated by politicians. Politicians are putting pressure on security personnel just as they do to INEC. That is true. That the CDS is speaking out is to tell you what is going on. That we have experienced over time.
“But the bad news to those who put pressure either on INEC staff or on security is that the way the system has been designed now, there is nothing that a security officer can do for you. However, with respect to security, this is where the Commander-in-Chief has to come in mightily,” he said.
According to him, INEC is currently focusing on an implementation strategy in line with the law and processes. He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene to uphold and protect the electoral process.
“My message to Mr President on the basis of my own experience, having also had the privilege of working under two chairmen (of the) electoral commission and under two presidents, including himself, is that this is the time for Mr President to have regular briefings from security chiefs in terms of their strategy.
“The President needs to know the strategies they are putting in place because the President will not move from Abia State to Zamfara to implement security strategy for this election,” he said.
Igini pointed out that the security plan should entail implementation strategies to deal with thugs who want to curtail the participation of eligible voters and address vote-buying.
“I know that with respect to INEC, it’s doing its own (thing) already in terms of arrangement of the polling unit arena. This is the role of Mr President. He needs to have briefings on all of these issues and with respect to the attacks on INEC offices,” he said.