Jega to INEC: Be wary of volunteers during elections

Jega to INEC: Be wary of volunteers during elections

A former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, yesterday, warned the commission to be wary of volunteers during elections.

Jega also expressed worry that some corrupt politicians were devising ways of compromising students and corps members being used for elections.

He observed that politicians were sniffing around campuses to compromise lecturers being used as electoral officers; especially for governorship elections.

He delivered a lecture titled: ‘Prospects and Challenges of Involving Volunteers in Nigeria’s Electoral Process’ at a public lecture organised by the University of Lagos Muslim Community in honour of the immediate past Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Rahamon Bello.

He said the commission, in selecting volunteers, should pay more attention to the identification and selection of credible individuals and security officers to bring about electoral integrity.

He noted that the use of volunteers had gained mileage since 2015 as Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) recruited many volunteers as election monitors and data collators, further saying it was worrisome that the integrity of CSOs was being eroded because of moves by politicians to compromise them.

“In 2011, the Transition Monitoring Group, a network of the CSOs and professional groups working on elections, mobilised and deployed thousands of volunteers for elections observation and gathering data for parallel results tabulation.

“However, it is worrisome that some corrupt politicians are beginning to find creative ways to compromise youth corps members and some students involved in election duties.

“Similarly, as the use of academic staff as collation and returning officers has become predictable, corrupt politicians are increasingly snooping around university campuses and INEC offices, especially over governorship elections.

“They are also inducing lecturers with money in the hope of compromising their role in result collation and tabulation.

“So far, there is no evidence that they have succeeded, but the tendency is increasing and it is of great concern,” Jega said.

He added that the current role of volunteers, as necessary and desirable as it was, left much to be desired, saying it required reformation to maximise its benefit ahead of the 2019 general elections.