The undersigned civil society organizations working to promote credible elections in Nigeria note that the tenure of ten (10) Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from the following states ended on the 6th July 2022; Anambra, Enugu, Rivers, Imo, Abia, Oyo, Kogi, Bauchi, Gombe, and Taraba state. Eight other RECs from Kaduna, Kano, Adamawa, Katsina, Osun, Niger, Akwa-Ibom, and Sokoto are due to complete their term on 11th August 2022. Cumulatively, INEC offices in eighteen states will witness leadership transition 215 days (7 months) to the 2023 general election. The civil society community is concerned about the delay in the appointment of RECs into INEC especially in the 10 states where the tenure of the outgone RECs has expired. No doubt, the exit of the RECs creates a leadership vacuum in those states that begs for urgent action from the President and National Assembly. The appointment of RECs has become very urgent considering the Commission is entering a critical phase in the preparations for the 2023 general elections, particularly with the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).
We commend the outgone and outgoing RECs for their hard work and meritorious service to the nation. Their stewardship as the heads of INEC in the states they served has contributed to the marked improvement in elections in Nigeria and the strengthening of our democracy. As they finish their tenures, we wish them the best in their future endeavours.
Effective electoral administration is contingent on the sufficiency of competent, and professional staff with the legal power to exercise regulatory authority over electoral processes. An understaffed INEC at the state level is incapable of delivering credible, transparent, inclusive and conclusive elections at all levels. It is therefore important for President Buhari to prioritise exercising his constitutional power to appoint new RECs into INEC to avail the Commission with the requisite manpower, and leadership it requires to organise credible elections in 2023. Further delay in the appointment will undermine the preparations for the general elections as well as diminish public confidence in the electoral process.
It is critical for the legitimacy and success of the 2023 general election that the appointment of the RECs is concluded expeditiously in a transparent, non-partisan and professional manner. To this end, the Civil Society community makes the following call;
That President Muhammadu Buhari should as a matter of urgency, expedite the nomination of individuals with unquestionable integrity, professional competence, experience, and political neutrality as INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners;
That in making nominations into INEC, President Buhari should be guided by the judgment of the Federal High Court on affirmative action wherein the court directed that all appointments must comply with the 35% affirmative action for women. In the same vein, the President should ensure the representation of Persons with disability (PWDs) and young people in the appointments.
That the Senate accelerates the process of screening nominees without compromising due diligence and comprehensive scrutiny of nominations forwarded by the President.