Uyo – Contrary to allegations in some quarters, the chairman, Akwa Ibom State Independent Electoral Commission, Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak, has denied having any sort of affiliation with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) before and after his appointment as Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Since the nomination of a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Sir Etekamba Umoren as the new INEC Commissioner from Akwa Ibom State, people have argued that Elder Ikoiwak had set precedence as a member of PDP appointed from the State.
Refuting the allegation, Elder Ikoiwak explained that he had in his 10 years of being an INEC REC conducted elections in various states where four different political parties won at gubernatorial level, adding that no resident electoral commissioner dead or alive has achieved such a feat.
He said this was a product of his resolve to remain focused and diligent in the course of duty and his refusal to be compromised, irrespective of who was involved.
“When I was in Bauchi, the ANPP won against a sitting PDP government totally; in Edo, the ACN won against the PDP; in Imo APGA defeated the sitting PDP government, and then the PDP won in Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa states.
“So when people say I am a member of a particular political party, I tell them you are not correct if you want to tag a political party on me, don’t tag one party because if it is assumed that when you conduct elections and a party wins it automatically means you are a member of that party then I should be a member of APGA, PDP, ACN, ANPP,” he said
“I was deployed to go to Imo State to conduct a supplementary election, before I even arrived; those politicians running for election had started looking for me.
“When I arrived I booked three hotels, I checked-in to one, dropped my bag at the other and slept in another. A day to the election a friend called in from Eket and asked where I was, I told him I was in Owerri, Imo State.
“He told me he was around in Owerri, and I gave him my location.
“Surprisingly, he appeared in my hotel with two other men, I left them there and went out through the inner room to another hotel”.
“After trying unsuccessfully to reach me, one of the governorship candidates told people that I must have collected such a very heavy bribe from his opponent and that was why I refused to even listen to their offer.
“I ignored their allegations and went on to do my business, which was to ensure a credible poll. In the end, he won the election.”
He further said that politicians won’t come to you if they notice that you always follow due process and uphold integrity.
“It was in that same election that the politician questioned my integrity yet won the election with a wide margin against his opponent.
“They brought a new phone with a newly registered sim card and asked to speak to me, I declined, I’m sure he must have felt I had given in to the highest bidder but he finally won the election.
“My annoyance was that he doubted my integrity, he concluded that more money was given to me by his opponent,” he said.
The AKISIEC chairman while chiding politicians who engage in bribery also faulted voters who engage in selling their votes to politicians and reiterated the need for reformation of the mind, stating that it breeds under performance from politicians after they win the election.
“An average voter thinks about money before they cast their votes, I think it’s time for a reformation and reorientation”.
On the just concluded general elections, Ikoiwak had this to say.
“I feel that the expectations of Nigerians were so high. It’s just like having a child who previously scores 40 percent assuring you of 100 percent but ends up scoring 70 percent that’s a pass.
“The promise of the Commission was so high that when it didn’t happen people where disappointed. However, it is the first time Nigerians actually elected people in government as we actually saw our names in our polling units, we voted and our votes reflected,” he said.
As measures towards actualising an accountable and effective government, Mr. Aniedi Ikoiwak harped on the need for electoral officers to firmly uphold integrity and transparency while conducting elections.
Mr Ikoiwak said he was able to succeed because he was always involved in the electoral processes which include distribution of materials as well as taking charge and ensuring other officials are working in tandem with laid down rules and making replacements where necessary.
“I have had instances where I had to change an Electoral officer with Assistant Electoral officer, if I perceive that they are not competent enough this has helped me block loopholes”.