Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing, says four West African Ministers rated the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) high in the conduct of Feb. 25 Presidential/National Assembly elections in Nigeria.
Fashola disclosed this to journalists after casting his vote in the Governorship and House of Assembly elections at polling unit 023, State Junior Grammer School, Itolo, Surulere on Saturday in Lagos.
The minister was accompanied by his wife, Dame Emmanuella Fashola.
Fashola said the ministers noted that the elections were good, adding that they had debated it at their cabinet meetings.
According to him, I was in Abidjan on Friday and four ministers in West Africa, who sat with me were saying they were learning from what we did in the last elections.
“It was a very good election, they actually debated on it at their cabinet meeting and the verdict of all of them to me was that it is far better.”
He urged Nigerians to celebrate INEC whenever they performed well and challenge them when wrong.
“For those of you who don’t know a lot about INEC, I think you should go and check out what it does and the countries that INEC is consulting for.
“That is a brand we have built in Nigeria in spite of its imperfections. No human organisation is perfect, let us celebrate them when they do well and challenge them when they are wrong,” he said.
The minister urged Nigerians to continue to encourage all those who had volunteered to serve the nation in any capacity.
“While we ask for service improvement at all times, we must continue to encourage those who volunteer to serve so that INEC can continue to attract better people.
“We create a scare mongering around INEC, I wonder who then will want to offer to take the job.
“That’s my take on INEC, we must ask them to continue to improve but we must inspire them and encourage them.
“We can challenge what they do without being vicious in our challenge, without wholesale condemnation,” he said.
Speaking on the conduct of the governorship and house of assembly elections , Fashola said there was a lot of improvement in the electioneering process, adding that there was no report of delay from any area.
He noted that the election was quicker today than previous ones.
“It is difficult at this stage to access the voter challenge, I can only point out that the process of voting today for me, in my experience, was quicker.
“That clearly shows that there has been some experience gained over the circles of elections.
“I can also point out that the long queues that we had during the last exercise on Feb. 25, are not here in my polling unit station today.
“I have not heard a report of delay on arrival of materials. As far as my own experience is concerned, the process was quicker. It took about five minutes or there about to vote,” he said.
According to him, whatever happens, let us not forget that INEC is an institution and people that are our brothers and sisters, who have volunteered to serve.
“Therefore, let us also understand that INEC is conducting elections across a large territory of 900,000 plus square kilometers. That is the size of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“It is diverse, it is expansive, it is a mixture of rural and urban, semi- urban territories. It is a logistic challenge and let us continue to recongnise that we need to encourage our brothers and sisters to sign-up to serve their country.
“Our children who are youth corps members, our relations, cousins from across Nigeria including people we know are serving as ad-hoc staff.
“They are in their hundreds of thousand, if not millions. Clearly, we don’t have the budget to keep them permanently in the employment. So the processes of training and all of that are challenging.”