Activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at its state branches across the country have grounded to a screeching halt following the non-appointment of Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) to supervise the states.
The development, vots9ja investigation revealed, poses a threat to the conduct of governorship elections in three states and preparations for 2019 general election.
While a governorship election is due to hold in Anambra State next year, Ekiti and Osun states will have theirs by the middle of 2018 at the latest.
Out of the 37 RECs required by law to head the INEC offices in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), only eight of such offices are manned by RECs.
Twenty nine state offices are currently being manned by administrative secretaries who are the most senior civil servants or career officers in the offices. RECs are political appointees.
A source in the know of INEC operations told our source that the INEC headquarters has been appointing what he called ‘Election REC’ to conduct bye-elections where necessary.
Every state is required by law to nominate a person for appointment as REC and at the moment, only Nasarawa, Ekiti, Edo, Borno, Kwara, Rivers, Gombe and Akwa Ibom states have people working as RECs in various states.
vots9ja investigation showed that among the eight RECs, five of them are due to complete their five-year tenure by February 16, 2017, leaving only three remaining.
Twenty one of the RECs bowed out of the commission between June and December 2015, just as eight completed their term in 2016.
There have been no replacements for all the outgone RECs, while only six of the vacant positions of national commissioners were filled about two months ago.
Concerns are consequently being raised by stakeholders over the implications of INEC not having a full complement of its staff in most state offices.
Speaking on the matter, Professor OBC Nwolise of the Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan, said there was nothing wrong in the delay over the appointment of new RECs, adding that Buhari was in order, as long as no law has been violated.
“It is only when there will be nationwide election that we can say that kind of super shortage of manpower constitutes a problem. But no law has been violated,” he said.
On the need to have the RECs appointed well ahead of election to give them enough time to be familiar with their terrains, Nwolise said it is a plus not to appoint them now so that they will not come under undue pressure from the political class.