The National Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (North-West), Malam Salihu Lukman, on Friday called on the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission to avoid fielding compromised returning officers for the governorship and state assemblies rerun elections.
This is even as the member of the APC National Working Committee urged the electoral umpire to conduct an internal audit to address noticeable lapses at the last polls, especially in Kebbi and Kano.
Recall that Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, had told newsmen in Abuja last week that all outstanding governorship, national and state assembly supplementary elections has been rescheduled for Saturday, April 15.
While stating that it is not mandatory for the commission to continue deploying academic staff and varsity dons as returning officers, Lukman appealed that those who conduct the last elections should not be allowed to return for the rerun polls.
He said, “We must accept there were some problems which had been recorded. We call INEC, being the electoral management body, to attend to those problems as quickly as possible and I will mention some of them. In my polling unit in Zaria, Kaduna, before the election, we detected ballot papers that were already thumb-printed for the PDP they were over 300 ballot papers.
“I want to use this opportunity to call on INEC that we must, as a matter of urgency, initiate the process of internal review of how the 2023 elections were managed. As part of that review, they must address issues of ethical conduct of their own staff, including the returning officers. I am a critic of the choice of INEC using academic staff as Returning Officers. I don’t believe being an academician is equivalent to competence in managing public service, such as a returning officer in an election. There are many cases of returning officers being compromised by politicians.
“I will not be comfortable if the set of staff who conducted Kebbi election because from all I see, there are cases of compromises. I called for an audit largely because I believe there are infractions and compromises. That accounts for why different standards applied to Kano and Kebbi which shouldn’t have been the case.
“I think we need to take advantage of the things noticed at the last polls. Immediately INEC should audit where the processes were compromised, including setting up a disciplinary committee.”
The veteran politician also took a swipe at critics and the opposition parties calling for the removal of INEC chairman, saying they are being insensitive.
According to him, it is wrong for any politician to enter a conest or election with the mindset that he must win at all costs.
Continuing, he disclosed that those calling for the head of Yakubu were those who are still living in denial of losing the elections.
“In fairness to Mahmood, I think the call (for his resignation) is very unfair. What is really the allegation? That PDP or the Labour Party lost the election? I mean, we’ve never had an election that is almost as balanced as the 2023 elections. Buhari lost in Katsina, Asiwaju lost in Lagos, our national chairman lost in Nasarawa. You get the point, and yet look on the ballot. It is not your capacity to win states that produced the overall winner. It’s more of the spread.
“When people go into an election without the capacity to respect their opponents, you end up disputing the result of the election. And as Nigerians, I think we must work hard to bring back the element of respect among ourselves. If I don’t respect myself, I don’t think you will respect me. If I don’t respect myself, I will not respect you. I mean, that is the minimum that must be addressed.
“So, the call for Yakubu to resign is because we don’t respect ourselves. We don’t respect the institution. Who goes into an election believing we must win. Who are we? We don’t even respect Nigerians. How can I go into an election, believing that automatically Nigerians must vote for me? Why do we have the election in the first place?” he stated.