By Isine IBANGA
The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini, has accused those trying to compromise the electoral process in the state of calling for his removal.
Mr. Igini, who spoke exclusively to our source on Sunday, said he is committed to providing a level playing field for all the political parties and their candidates during the forthcoming governorship and state house of assembly elections.
The REC said he is not bothered by the clamour for his removal, saying he is focused on the job of delivering free, fair and credible election for the people of Akwa Ibom State.
“But the question I am asking them is, why do you want to remove me? Why is it that in our country today, when a man says he wants to do the right thing, a man who has embraced certain pristine values to do the right thing is the one having problems?” Mr. Igini asked.
“That people want to do the right things, they are putting all kinds of hindrances on his way. Why is it so?
“My friend, if I had compromised, I wouldn’t have any problem today. I can now confirm to you that in my experience in the Nigerian public, integrity is very difficult to maintain.
“You are endangered if you are talking about integrity. What kind of country are we? We are supposed to be going for a civil exercise and that is an election. Why does it look as if we are going to war?
“Look at the number of people that were killed in other parts of the country during last Saturday’s election.
“Have we lost our sense of humanity? We are grateful to God that nobody died here in Akwa Ibom but the fact that people were killed in other places is worrisome.”
Mr. Igini said he was not posted to the state to count money but to count ballot papers, adding that those who want him to compromise the electoral process in their favour are those shouting the most.
“I have not come here to count money. I only come here to count ballot papers. Those who want me to compromise the process are the ones shouting out there. I can tell you that.
“Those looking for compromise in the process are the ones who are also calling for my removal. Why would you remove a man who says he wants to give everybody equal opportunity. So far there is no evidence of compromise of any kind because I carry everybody along.
“We have demonstrated the level of transparency that they have not seen before. I have asked them, how is it possible for somebody to be said to be holding meetings with people that he doesn’t even know.
“I arrived this state on September 5, 2017, and from that day till now that I am speaking to you from my official residence; I have never stepped into the home of the son or daughter of Akwa Ibom State. I have never stepped into the house of any human being since I came to this state.”
The REC said it is unfortunate that supposedly respectable people, who have held public offices, could insinuate that he (Igini) has been holding meetings with people he does not know from creation.
He said he is not one of those to be swayed by the gratifications offered by people, adding that his needs are limited and he does not need some of the things political actors attempt to offer him.
“Regrettably, many do not know our values. My needs are so limited. There are so limited that I don’t need some of the things people talk about.
“I think they need to get that message. Here in Akwa Ibom, it is going to be the will of the people expressed through the ballot, honestly counted at the polling units and declared at the last point of collation is what will be announced at the last leg of the election,” he said.
When reminded that some security operatives went against their rules of engagement during the last election, Mr. Igini said security operatives who worked directly under him did a good job.
Nevertheless, the REC said he has decided to apply selective appreciation and selective condemnation over the conduct of security operatives during presidential and National Assembly elections.
“Yesterday when I was doing an appraisal, I was talking about selective commendation and also selective condemnation. The military, for instance, has been very helpful to me here in Akwa Ibom.
“I am talking about those working with me. But I also got reports about some military personnel also helping politicians to do some other things that were wrong. Whether they are genuine military men or those ones they normally sow uniforms for and or personnel of other security agencies, I cannot confirm.
Mr. Igini advised politicians to understand that election will come and go but every institution and the people who played roles in the process will remain.
He appealed to stakeholders to remember a book of history will be opened to record the roles played by persons and institutions long after the elections are concluded.
“I must also say that in the final analysis, there is a high court of history that will sit in judgment on these people over the roles each and every one of us played either in the advancement of our democracy or the retrogression of our democracy.
“It will show whether we were men of courage, whether we were men of sound judgment or whether indeed, given the opportunity, that most of us that have been given today and people in the other institutions, we did the right things for our country.” (Source: THE NEXT EDITION)