Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has thanked members of staff of INEC across the country for their positive contributions to the successful conduct of the 2015 general elections. He noted particularly that INEC staff have contributed immensely towards salvaging the image of the Commission.
Flanked by National Commissioners, Dr Chris O. Iyimoga, Dame Gladys Nne Nwafor, Prof Akinola Salau, Ambassador Mohammed Wali, Amina Zakari and the Secretary to the Commission, Mrs Augusta Ogakwu, Prof. Jega gave the commendation at a post-election meeting with senior staff of the Commission held at Merit House, Maitama, Abuja, Thursday.
He pointed out that majority of the staff who conducted the 2007 general elections and were accused of various complicities, were the same staff used to record the much celebrated victory in the conduct of the 2015 general elections, adding that the leadership of the Commission created the enabling environment for the staff to contribute to deepening democracy. He said: “Majority of INEC staff are honest people, decent people and people doing their: best for their country”.
On staff welfare, the INEC Chairman regretted that the major expectation or aspiration of the staff of the Commission has not been satisfied, but stressed that the present Commission has been committed to improving the welfare of staff. He said: “We all know that the issue of a new salary structure in a country like Nigeria is not only too politicized but it is an issue that successive governments handle like a hot potato. We tried our best as diplomatically as possible to explore ways and means of introducing a new salary structure. I regret that we have not been able to deliver on that major promise.”
He assured that within the remaining thirty days left for the Commission, all outstanding issues of promotion will be resolved, even as he explained that all promotions since he assumed office were done in compliance with the laws and the provisions of the Federal Character Commission.
On unionism, he said: “No management forms a union, staff are responsible for forming unions and persuade other members to register. Please, nothing in the law stops INEC staff from forming a union”. However, Prof Jega pointed to a possible booby trap and said: “Once you unionize, politicians are going to use it to disrupt the electoral process. So you should discuss costs and benefits of unionizing”.
Prof Jega also lamented the poor communication among departments and called for a change to enhance the job of the Commission. The interactive session also saw the National Commissioners present, proffering solutions to identified challenges.
The meeting provided the opportunity for some members of staff to ventilate their feelings on some policies of the Commission, suggesting ways of improvement.