It is a welcome development that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under the able leadership of extremely hardworking Chairman, Ibrahim Magu (May Allah reward him with long life and sound health, amin) is going to monitor how political parties spend money for political parties congresses and at various polling booths for ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The truth is that most of INEC staff currently on interdiction are as a result of impunity of KEY STAKEHOLDERS and mind set of ad hoc staff engaged by the commission.
A lot of sitting INEC staff got involved unknowingly; unfortunately ignorance is no excuse in law, hence the present situation is ordained by Allah nay occupational hazards.
Most of these ad hoc staff hold secret meetings with politicians without the consent of INEC staff, thus making INEC staff vulnerable in the course of carrying out and discharging their legitimate duties.
Most ad hoc staff of the commission at polling booths level believe they are entitled to another money apart from the official sum from the commission ( which unfortunately is the norm except we want to hide the fact on field during elections) , and unfortunately, the politicians are ready to give them with or without the involvement of the Electoral Officer (EO).
At times an average INEC permanent staff play along to safe the job without compromising the integrities of the election, this I mean by not making available the essential materials like Result Sheets, Ballot papers etc, to ANY Stakeholder by placing the person above other Stakeholders, thus making the Field and the Process even to all stakeholders, furthermore real politicians get close to monitor what an average INEC staff is doing to ensure he is not rig out during the elections without necessarily compromising the integrity of the Elections, the bitter truth is that INEC staff and Key Stakeholders interact during the build up to election officially and at times some Key Stakeholders put undue pressure on the staff who have to think outside the box to navigate out of the pressure by not putting his or her life in danger. This happen in all the elections till date. Moles can be sponsored as ad hoc staff to verify these claims.
Unfortunately once the Electoral Officer (EO) refuses in most cases to get involved, the ad hoc staff resort to threats and at times withheld the results sheets, alleging that the EO have their money (which in most cases is not for compromising the results).
The EO at that this stage need to be proactive to get the job done without compromising the results from the polling booths, hence the need for him to look for a way to navigate out of the situation without tainting the results knowing that if anything goes wrong, he will be blamed for lack of initiatives and inability to think outside the box.
In most cases, a lot of INEC staff thinks outside the box to resolve such situations in the process of elections, but in some cases, thinking outside the box can also create problems with security agencies and some stakeholders.
We have cases of INEC staff kidnapped during election, but most of these incidents were unreported.
The truth of the matter is that INEC staff are not miracle workers or magicians, but politicians will not believe this. Unfortunately, most ad hoc staff at polling booth level always sees it as an opportunity to make extra money. Hence, the need for mindset seminar for ALL stakeholders involved in electoral activities.
The basic truth is that INEC staff cannot make an unpopular candidate win an election.
The way forward if I may suggest is that:
EFCC should organise mindset seminars if possible for politicians, all security agencies involved in electoral activities, INEC staff and most importantly the NYSC members being engaged by the electoral body on the implications of receiving gratification in course of discharge of their duties with the consequences of their actions.
The truth is that it’s been business and impunity unusual with Ibrahim Magu on duty as boss which is changing the narrative in INEC.
So, this mindset seminar by EFCC in collaboration with ICPC, DSS and Ministry of Justice will help solve a lot of problems associated with impunity of stakeholders as relate to conduct of electoral activities, because most of the problems has largely to do with KEY STAKEHOLDER impunity and in most cases INEC staff play along mostly to keep their jobs and prevent harm or violent attacks on them.
The truth is that most INEC staff think outside the box to perform their legitimate duties. Let me share a personal experience which is just one out of several experiences in the course of my work as an INEC staff.
In 2006, when the commission first introduced the use of laptop for registration of voters, three laptops and the ad hoc staff (NYSC members) were seized and detained at a notorious location where I worked as EO. When the report got to me, I went to the closest police station to the registration area.
But to my dismay, the then DPO for the area in question told me he can’t send any of his men to the street which I know is under the firm control of violent hoodlums. The next thing on my mind was how to retrieve the government laptops and secure the release of the innocent youth corpers.
I prayed and went with God to the place, where I met the ad hoc staff with the head of the area boys.
The first thing the head of the area boys said, was to congratulate me for coming alone without security agents.
We subsequently agreed, after serious negotiations on what to pay for their release (both men and materials).
To save and prevent reoccurrence of the situation since it is obvious the NYSC members will not accept to work in the area again ( I won’t want risk their life anyway), I asked the head of the boys to nominate 12 of his boys who are literate and in school that I now trained and engaged to man the three polling booths on that street.
That was how I was able to carry out voters’ registration successfully on that street then.
The import of this, is that I used my initiatives of thinking outside the box to use non NYSC members (students of federal universities are equally qualified for the job) for the area without waiting for harm to befall both INEC men and materials.
The truth is that, this is what most INEC staff cope with in the course of discharging their duties.
EFCC can organise seminars on the offences relating to bribery, fraud, conspiracy and money laundering for all civil servant on GL 07 and above.
Fliers can also be mass produced to let them know the consequences of their action knowingly or unknowingly because in most cases, most staff got involved especially on issues of money laundering and conspiracy unknowingly.
Furthermore, INEC should include in its staff conditions of service, punishment for bosses that gave unlawful instructions to the staff they supervise. We are no saints ( its only Allah that possesses the attributes) but we have a moral obligation to carry out our duties with transparency and without bias.
EFCC should be commended for their role in sanitizing the electoral process in the country. God bless the able leadership of Ibrahim Mustapha Magu, Allah s Rahman always.