The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Osun State, Dr. Rufus Akeju, has given the reasons why he stepped aside during the August 9th Governorship Election in the state.
Akeju while speaking in his office at the monthly meeting of the State Inter-Agency Advisory Committee on Voter Education and Publicity (SICVEP) said he took the step in order to give credibility to the exercise.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had alleged that Akeju was a card carrying member of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which later transformed into the All Progressives Congress (APC) alleging that he would be a biased umpire.
According to him, he took the option to “step aside” during the exercise because of the spurious criticism and negative assertion leveled against his person by some registered political parties.
The state REC explained he was, however, vindicated because the vote and aspiration of the people of the state counted as the party of their choice emerged the winner.
Akeju said: “I want to place on record that my stepping aside for the commencement of my annual leave during the election was intentional in spite of the spurious criticisms and mischievous assertions levelled against my person”.
While lauding the contributions of the committee towards the success of the election, Akeju stressed that the electoral body needed the involvement of the committee in the realisation of its mandate and called for professional input in channelling the voter education and enlightenment programme in such a way that the objectives of the committee would be effectively achieved.
The Osun REC, however, reminded media houses in the country on the directive to stop advertising or publishing political campaign materials before the commencement date for political campaign as stipulated by Section 99 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
He warned the stakeholders against contravening this provision of the law adding that if this is achieved, the era of impunity will be eradicated from the nation political environment.
According to him: “The INEC recently issued a circular to all stakeholders, especially to the media about the need to stop advertising or publishing political campaign materials before the commencement date for political campaign as stipulated by section 99 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended”.
Also speaking on the occasion, Osun State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Hon. Sunday Akere, lauded the INEC for being alive to its responsibilities to Nigerians and people of Osun State during the August 9th Governorship Election in the state adding that the commission was able to stand on its own despite mounting pressures “from above”.
He advised the electoral body to ensure that the 2015 general election is conducted under a hitch free atmosphere, adding that all parties should be given a level play ground to carry out their electioneering campaigns.
He, however, pledged the support of the media houses in the state to the commission’s activities, adding that it is in the good interest of all and sundry.