Welcome Address to the Sokoto Retreat with Members of the Senate and House Committees on INEC/Electoral Matters, by Professor Attahiru M. Jega. OFR, Chairman, INEC, on Wednesday April 17, 2013
On behalf of the National Commissioners and Staff of INEC, I welcome the Chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC and the Distinguished Senator, members of the Committee, as well as the Chairman and Honourable members of the House Committee on Electoral Matters to this Retreat. We are honoured by your acceptance of our invitation and we are delighted that you are all able to be here in spite of your very busy schedules.
The main objective of this Retreat is to have an opportunity to extensively discuss issues relating to the mandate of INEC, especially:
- Preparations for Constituency Delimitation
- INEC’s Recommendations for Constitutional and Electoral Act Amendments
- INEC’s Strategic Plan; and
- The Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs)
The Retreat is also an opportunity for the National Commissioners and key Directors of INEC to interact with the Distinguished and Honourable members of the National Assembly, exchange ideas and strengthen the already very good working relationship which we have developed together, as we strive to reform the Nigerian electoral process.
As the Distinguished Senators and Honourable members are no doubt aware, the current Commission was inaugurated on June 30, 2010. In the almost 3 years of our coming into INEC, we have developed plans and executed programmes and projects, which have brought remarkable improvements into the Nigeria electoral process and which have enabled us to conduct free, fair and credible elections adjust the best so far in our electoral history.
Managing and reforming the electoral process, especially in Nigeria is a very challenging task for many reasons. But we have been able to record some successes, and this is essentially because of the support and cooperation, which we enjoyed from a range of stakeholders, most important among whom are the distinguished Senators and Honourable members in this Retreat. We therefore wish to place on record our immense gratitude and appreciation to all of you, especially to the leadership of the National Assembly, and in particular to Distinguished Senator Andy Uba and Honourable Jerry Manwe, who chair these Committees, with which we have related very well.
We have done our best and remarkably improved the conduct of elections from 2011 to date. Of course, the outcome has not pleased every Nigerian and we all know that there is a lot more challenging work to do to institutionalize a culture of free, fair, credible and peaceful elections in our country, devoid of lawlessness and impunity, and with substantive outcomes that are overwhelming acceptable to the electorates.
Thus, as we move towards 2015 elections, we have to re-double our efforts and keep on putting in place mechanisms and processes that would result and greater successes. It is therefore important that we use Retreats such as this, to interact with you, update you on our plans and preparations and bridge any communication gaps that may exist, and generally build mutual trust and confidence as we work collectively together to make 2015 elections the best ever in Nigeria’s history.
We trust that we shall continue to enjoy the support and assistance of all stakeholders, especially the Distinguished and Honourable members of the National Assembly.
Once again, we welcome all of you to this Retreat. We apologize for any inconveniency caused by bringing you to Sokoto in April when the weather is becoming very hot! I can only hope that the fruitfulness of the deliberations would adequately compensate for those inconveniencies. I wish us all fruitful deliberations.