The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will not accept the nomination of university lecturers who have participated in partisan politics or were convicted of electoral malpractice as returning and state collation officers in the coming polls.
Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, spoke in Abuja at a meeting with vice-chancellors of universities.
Yakubu said the collation of election results would take place in 8,809 registration areas in 774 LGAs in the country.
“Put together, we will engage 23,258 personnel as collation and returning officers. It is for this reason that this meeting is crucial,” he said.
“We need the support of our universities to source the requisite number of the suitable academic staff of impeccable integrity who must also understand that this is a call to national service.
“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 who 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.
“Furthermore, those who have been convicted of electoral malpractice must be excluded.”
Yakubu said INEC would carefully scrutinise the list which must be submitted confidentially in the manner prescribed by the commission in his letter to the vice-chancellors.
“Like all election duty personnel, each collation and the returning officer will swear to an oath of neutrality,” he said.
Yakubu commended the partnership of Nigerian universities to conduct elections in Nigeria.
He said without the involvement of tertiary institutions, especially the universities, INEC would find it extremely difficult to conduct credible 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 0fficers for the governorship election and state collation officers for the presidential election,” he said.
“In spite of 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.
“The commission wishes to sustain this partnership.”
Lilian Salami, chairman of the committee of vice-chancellors of Nigerian universities, pledged that the academic staff will deliver their best in the national assignment.
Salami said if Nigeria is to be celebrated among the comity of nations, the academic staff must play their role effectively.
“That is because not only are we training the manpower for this nation but we are also building characters and we, of course, are persons of good character,” she said.
“At the end of this exercise, we will be proud to have contributed our quota to the development of this country.”