President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday charged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make the conduct of free, fair and credible elections their priority, warning that they cannot afford to fail Nigerians in future elections.
The President spoke shortly after administering the oaths of office on the new National Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and five newly appointed national commissioners of the electoral body at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Restating his promise not to interfere in the affairs of the electoral body, the president said: “I pledge to respect the independence of the commission; we will not interfere in its operation.”
He noted that that the change promised Nigerians by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would be an all-encompassing package, stressing that the change would affect electoral process and work ethics, among others, adding that the change mantra would also be extended to state levels in other to restore sanity in the affairs of States Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs).
While making a case for the prosecution of electoral offenders, he declared that the cancellation of elections alone was not enough and insisted that perpetrators of violence and thuggery during elections should also not be spared.
The National Commissioners included Mrs. Amina Zakari, Mr. Solomon Adedeji Soyebi, Prof. Antonia Taiye Okoosi-Simbine, Dr. Muhammed Mustafa Lecky and Alhaji Baba Shettima Arfo.
The new INEC boss, Yakubu, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, admitted that free and fair elections were at the heart of national development and pledged their commitment to the discharge of their responsibility without fear and favour.
Present at the event includes Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President, Bukola Saraki; and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.