The Executive Secretary, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, has enjoined Vice-Chancellors of federal universities to uphold the sanctity and good reputation of the Nigerian University System by applying themselves fully to the rules of engagement as prescribed by INEC for all university officials who would be participating in the 2019 electoral duties.
Prof. Rasheed in company of the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmud Yakubu, briefed vice-chancellors of federal universities, on the modalities and need to have a credible elections in 2019.
Prof. Rasheed remarked, that Nigeria now had 169 universities (43-federal, 47-state owned and 79-private, well over 61 thousand academic staff and about two million undergraduate students including several non-academic staff and post graduate students).
He thanked INEC for the confidence reposed in the NUS to undertake this onerous responsibility.
He implored the Vice-Chancellors to act with utmost sense of fairness, justice and credibility. He warned that any infraction that could be injurous to the academia or impinge on the reputation of the entire system and put it in bad light must be avoided.
He urged the Vice-Chancellors to take the INEC assignment very seriously by nominating neutral and capable personnel possible, adding that the system now more than ever, would be monitored and brought under scrutiny.
While pledging the total commitment of the NUS, he expressed optimism that come March, 2019 the NUS would reconvene to rejoice with INEC and the nation in what he hoped would turn out to be the freest election, because of the involvement once again of the NUS.
Earlier, in his welcome remarks, the Chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Vice-Chancellor Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Professor Joseph E. Ahaneku thanked the Chairman of INEC and the Executive Secretary, NUC, for finding the vice-chancellors and other university officials worthy of consideration for participation in election duties.
He assured that as trusted partners, the vice-chancellors would not abuse the trust and confidence reposed in them.
The vice-chancellors collectively, requested INEC to communicate in explicit terms the procedures, instructions and timelines including the planned pre-election workshop, as they undertook to work with INEC in the collective effort at consolidating Nigeria’s democracy.
In his own remarks, the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, expressed appreciation to the CVC for convening the meeting at short notice. While thanking NUC, being the regulator of university education.
The Chairman said that INEC would find it difficult to conduct any credible elections without the involvement of Nigeria’s tertiary institutions.
Participants were informed that at the polling unit level, the critical segment of election duty staff would be drawn from products of the universities, colleges of education and polytechnics who would be undertaking the mandatory National Youth Service Corps scheme.
In addition, INEC would draw from the academic staff of the universities, the required collation and returning officers, including vice-chancellors who would serve as returning officers for the governorship elections as well as collation officers for the presidential elections.
The meeting noted that over the years, there had been an excellent collaboration which the chairman happily announced, had further enhanced the transparency and credibility of elections in Nigeria.
Prof Mahmood said that the Commission wished to sustain and deepen the collaboration, given the public confidence in this well established process.
The meeting further noted that on Saturday 16th February, 2019, elections would be held in 470 constituencies nationwide, comprising the presidential, 190 senatorial constituencies and 360 federal constituencies.
Subsequent to this, elections would hold on Saturday 2nd March, 2019 in 1,088 constituencies made up of 29 Governorship Elections, 991 State Constituencies and 68 Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory, making it a total of 1,558 constituencies, for which elections would be held in 2019.
Cognisant of the fact that the 2019 General elections would involve the highest number of registered voters and a record number of political parties, the Chairman of INEC had made a request to each university for a specified number of academic staff to be used during the elections.
He stressed that staff who were card carrying members or have participated in partisan politics should not be nominated for election duty.
He added that those who might not be involved in partisan political activities but known to have obvious political leanings should not be nominated either.
He pointed that the Commission would carefully scrutinise the list of university nominees, which must be submitted confidentially in the manner prescribed by the Commission in its letter to vice-chancellors of federal universities.
In a vote of thanks, the Vice-Chancellor, Modibbo Adama University Yola, Professor Kyari, on behalf of the CVC expressed commitment to the Nigerian project, free and fair elections by their active participation.
He stated that the choice of vice-chancellors as returning officers and collation officers was born out of the general belief that as academics of substance, vice-chancellors should have acquired sufficient level of integrity to conduct free and fair elections and not to be swayed by other considerations.