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By NBF News

President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday swore in the new Chairman of the reconstituted Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega and the national commissioners. He charged him to maintain his radicalism and bring about positive changes in the electoral body.

In his response, the new INEC chairman also urged the President to stick to his promise and commitment of guaranteeing free and fair elections by ensuring non-interference, impartiality and neutrality in the operations of the commission.

The President warned Jega that both his colleagues and students were watching to see if he would stand by the principle he taught about in the classroom, adding that Nigerians and the international community expected the INEC team to meet the high standards expected of the 2011 polls.

Those sworn in along with Jega as National INEC Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners were, Nuhu Yakubu from Yobe; Col. Hammanga Kurmi from Adamawa; Gladys Nwakwo from Abia; Ismail Igbani from Rivers, Therma Eremere from Delta and Lai Olorode from Osun.

The President also swore in his special advisers among when were: The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ima Niboro, Special Adviser on Power, Bath Nnaji, Special Adviser to the Vice President on Special Duties, Isaiah Balat, and Special Adviser to the VP on Political Affairs, Hussaini Jallo.

Speaking shortly after the swearing-in ceremony at the Council Chambers, President Jonathan said the world was looking up to the new INEC boss not only to conduct a free, fair but an acceptable election in 2011.

'I was quite excited when one newspaper described you as a radical and I am happy that a radical is going to INEC to do positive things and make sure that you don't compromise that belief. Luckily you are a professor of high repute; your students are all watching you whether you will stand by the principle you have been talking in the classroom. Your colleagues are also watching you,' he said.

Jonathan, who expressed gratitude to all Nigerians for the role they played in the emergence of Jega as INEC boss, said 'Your responsibility is even more enormous than mine in terms of managing elections. I will be considered as an ordinary partisan politician, people will accuse me that probably I will favour my party but you are not one. You are expected to show transparency and honesty in all that you do'.

The President further stressed, 'I, therefore, expect Jega and his able team to meet the high standards that Nigerians and the rest of the world expect of them. This assignment is one of the most important jobs in our country and our citizens are keenly interested in its outcome. It is true that legitimacy is one of the fundamental building blocks that compel governments to accountability'.

He maintained that 'to be accountable, elected officials must emerge through a process that is free, fair and transparent. Most Nigerians believe that our difficult electoral history is the reason for our underdevelopment and lack of confidence in those who govern. We must therefore begin to repudiate this arbitrariness, and there is no better time to start than now'.