The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the weekend tasked lecturers at various Institutions in Nigeria who have been engaged for the 2019 General elections not to compromise their integrity foe a pot of porridge.
Resident Electoral Commissioner in Anambra State, Dr Nkwachukwu Orji, dropped the hint during a town hall meeting organized by Academics in Tertiary Institutions in South-East and South-South under the auspices of Academic Frontiers Initiative (AFI) Anambra chapter at Finotel hotel Awka, Anambra state.
Dr Orji, a Political Scientist called on the lecturers to live above board and ensure that 2019 general elections remains the best in the annals of Nigeria’s democratic history as according to him INEC has perfected plans to give Nigerians a free , fair and credible election this year.
He insisted that delivery of a credible election depends on everybody including the lecturers who serve as collation and Returning Officers during the election based on integrity reposed on them even as he decried the voter apathy always experienced in Anambra state during elections.
The Anambra REC represented by the Head of Department, Voter Education and Publicity, Leo Nkedife lamented that over 300,000 PVC’s remained unclaimed in Anambra state out of over 2 million registered in Anambra state. He condemned vote buying and asked stakeholders to mobilize their people to come out and vote on Election Day since it is of no use registering over 2 Million votes but only 22 percent comes out to vote. He urged political parties to nominate credible people as their party agents to assist in the credibility of the elections outcome.
Another Resource person, and President, Anabel Group, Dr Nick Okoye who decried the docility of Political science departments in Nigerian Universities for not proffering solutions to the failing democratic culture Nigeria is operating , challenged Nigerians to get rid of entitlement culture which is the bane of the Nigerian society.
Dr Okoye who was the former Managing Director, Transnational Corporation of Nigeria, Transcorp wants Nigerians to have a rethink and elect leaders who are visionary and reliable by shunning mediocre and lousy leaders who have no interest in the future of Nigeria. He encouraged for interest in Science and Technology as it is the next industrial revolution imminent to rule the world. He said Ndigbo are the best in the world and would have been part of inventions like the computers as Mobinson computers if not the sabotage by those responsible for patent.
National Coordinator Academic Frontiers Initiative (AFI), Dr Chinedu Onyeizugbe informed that the town hall meeting became necessary to mobilize lecturers who act as advisory an intellectual moulders to become partners in ensuring good governance through sensitization and advocating for free, fair and credible election because the ballot is stronger than the bullet, rather than continue to be arm chair critics.
Dr Onyeizugbe reiterated on the negative consequences of electoral malpractices especially vote buying and rigging because the ignorance of a voter in a democracy like ours impairs the security of all. He insisted that as lecturers they have responsibilities as stakeholders to ensure free, fair and credible polls.
He encouraged all to promote procedural integrity and shun every attempt to rig the general election against the will of the people even as he asked traditional leaders, religious leaders and market leaders to sensitize their subjects to reject vote buying and vote according to their conscience.
He warned against acts capable of jeopardizing the democratic process of voting the best candidate for the presidential election who regardless of political party will have the political will to be fair to all Nigerians, respect the rule of law, engage best hands in professional affairs o the nation , make appointments based on competence , run an all-inclusive governance that is devoid of tribalism, nepotism, and restructure the county for fairness , equity and justice which is the wish of the common man.
Contributing, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Prof Chinyere Stella Okunna , Chairman on the occasion and Deputy Vice Chancellor Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, COOU, Prof Elis Idemobi and the traditional ruler of Mbaukwu, Awka South local government area, Igwe Peter Anugwu commended the Academic Frontiers Initiative and encourage them to mobilize themselves to vote in a credible candidate for the future of Nigeria.
Prof Okunna who represented the Vice Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and former Governor of Anambra state, Mr Peter Obi reiterated that Obi and Atiku are the best Nigerians needed now than ever as she witnessed Obi’s feats in Anambra during his 8 years of governance. Prof Okunna insisted that good governance should not be selective and discriminating but wholistic for the entire country. She said the democratic model Obi presented in Anambra thorough ANIDS developed the state simultaneously and she is hopeful the entire country would be developed by Atiku and Obi if given the chance.
As well a member of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) BoT, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka , Proprietor of Rojenny Games Village, Oba and the Director General Atiku/Obi Campaign Organization, Anambra state , Chief Harry Ohanezi, a medical Doctor condemned vote buying which is a new lexicon in politics and decried the low participation of Igbo people during elections even with huge population and appealed to them to troop put and vote a candidate of their choice.
But Chief Ohanezi buttressed why Peter Obi and Atiku will emerge victorious in the next month’s election as according to him, this marks the biblical 40 years Late Dr Alex Ekwueme took oath of office as Vice President of Federal Republic of Nigeria and another Igbo man is going to take his oath of office as Vice President to Alhaji Atiku Abubakkar. He said the present administration has not improved on the economy that people now take money to vote. He wants INEC to do the needful of assigning an agent to each contestant instead of one for all the candidates in a political party.
In his welcome remarks, the state Coordinator, Academic Frontiers Initiative (AFI), Dr Uche Ngenegbo , Prof Uche Nwogwugwu , Vice Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka Prof Joseph Ahaneku represented by Prof Godson Okafor and other stakeholders as well as Political Parties representatives harped on the need for a free, fair and credible election in Nigeria to enthrone leaders who are committed, dedicated and visionary hence they are mobilizing the academics across institutions in the two zones to participate actively in the election without compromise. They called on INEC to be proactive and nip all forms of electoral malpractice in the bud even as they raised alarm over vote buying jeopardizing the electoral process.