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INEC: JEGA TAKES OVER, PLEDGES TO MEET EXPECTATIONS

By NBF News

Prof. Jega
New Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, reported at the commission's headquarters in Abuja yesterday shortly after being sworn in by President Goodluck Jonathan.

He promised to make INEC truly independent, impartial and law-abiding. He also pledged to meet the expectations of Nigerians and the international community on credible, free and fair elections.

Shortly after Jega's meeting with the top echelon of the commission, INEC said it would revisit the time-table earlier released in respect of next year's elections as well as the existing voters' register in the light of the new developments and see whether to adopt them or come out with fresh ones.

The new Chairman will fully assume duties on Monday.

Addressing the directing staff of the commission during his maiden visit to the Zambezi Crescent headquarters in Abuja, Jega said he and the national commissioners, who were sworn in with him had taken the INEC assignment as a major challenge for which they would give their best, adding that 'God willing, we will succeed.'

Expressing gratitude to Jonathan for entrusting them with this responsibility, Jega who until yesterday, was the Vice-Chancellor of the Bayero University, Kano, said the aspiration of all Nigerians and the international community was to see an INEC that was independent and impartial, and which would be able to conduct credible, free and fair elections in 2011.

'I want to re-assure you and all Nigerians that I have come to this office with a commitment to do my best and to ensure that these aspirations are actualized. I have no doubts that the national commissioners have the same commitment that I have in order to bring this about,' he said.

Pledging to steer INEC along the path of rule of law, Jega said he would give his best and do 'everything possible to ensure that we respect the laws. We will remain neutral and impartial and we do what is required of us as per the law in order to bring about free, fair and credible elections in this country. I believe that we as a commission will do our best, and we urge all the political stakeholders, particularly, the police and other security agencies to ensure that we create the necessary environment for free and fair elections in this country.'

Jega also said the commission under his leadership will ensure that all registerable Nigerians were properly registered and enlightened to discharge their responsibilities during elections. He called on the commission's development partners to assist it in that direction.

Describing an enlightened citizenry as a necessary factor of success in elections and the democratization process in the country, he said INEC as a commission would leave no stone unturned in its effort to ensure there was proper voter registration, proper voter education and a well-organized, efficient and effective process of conducting elections in this country.

However, the one-time president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), said he was under no illusion that committed as his team was, it would not be able to succeed in the discharge of its responsibilities without the support, assistance and encouragement of the staff of the commission and other stakeholders in the electoral process.

'Obviously the staff of INEC, particularly the senior staff in the headquarters, have great roles to play and great responsibility. I, therefore, wish to use the opportunity of the interaction with you to urge you to please give us the maximum support and cooperation in the discharge of our responsibilities,' he said.

Jega hinted at a possible reorganization at the electoral body, noting that 'obviously, a lot needed to be done to bring about efficiency and effectiveness in the operations of INEC,' even as he pledged to do his best to ensure this was realized.