My regret as INEC chairman – Jega

JUNE 16, 2015 : BY OLUSOLA FABIYI 

The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, on Monday reviewed his tenure as the boss of the electoral body and concluded that his only regret was his inability to create a separate salary structure for INEC workers.

Jega spoke in Abuja during a retreat organised for the electoral officers of the commission where the report of the 2015 elections was reviewed.
The retreat was titled, “2015 general elections: Lessons and the way forward.”
Jega also said that members of staff of the commission were subjected to difficult circumstances during the 2015 elections.
He said apart from the special salary issue, the commission under his leadership performed well.
But he regretted that despite the undertaking he said he made when he assumed office on the need to create a special salary structure for the members of staff of the commission, he was unable to accomplish that up till now.
He said, “We have done our best as a commission under very difficult circumstances and the major regret as I have always acknowledged is that a major undertaking we made when we first resumed at the commission is to have a separate salary structure for the members of staff of the commission but we have not been able to achieve this
“And obviously this is one area where we still have to do a lot of work and put in a lot of efforts as we move towards the future and to improve.
“But apart from that, I don’t think we have done badly in terms of promoting the welfare and the wellbeing of the members of staff.
“We have ensured that salaries were paid regularly, we have ensured that there are a lot of opportunities for self improvement through the organisation of seminar and workshop with our partners.”
He said he was aware that there was no way the commission could satisfy everyone, saying that some were not happy when the commission redeployed some of its members of staff.
He said, “Again as I said, we could not have satisfied the expectations of everybody, we believe that we have done our best. I must say that not all of you are happy with some of the measures that we have introduced as a commission.
“The restructuring and reorganisation certainly could not have satisfied everybody because it required trimming down the size of the commission and also redefining schedule of responsibilities and putting square pegs in square holes as we called it at that time.”
Jega, who had insisted that he would leave INEC after the expiration of his tenure, said that the 2015 general elections were better than those of 2011.
But he added that there was a lot of room for improvement and that as the country prepares for future elections, the commission must begin to reflect on what areas of further reforms it should focus its attention on.
Jega also urged members of staff of the commission not to be carried away by the accolades showered on them because of the successful conduct of the 2015 general elections but they should work towards improved performance in 2019.
“I think not many of us in this room would need a reminder, but it is important that we remind ourselves that the success of the 2015 general elections was as a result of the tremendous effort and undertaking of many of us to learn from our mistakes, to take measures to learn from those mistakes and to continue to do our best for our country,” he added.
The Country Director, International Foundation for Electoral Systems in Nigeria, Prof. Gloria Richard-Jackson, had earlier congratulated the commission on the successful conduct of the 2015 elections.
She noted that although the 2015 elections had been adjudged as the best in the country, “there is still room for improvement.”
“IFES is happy to support your commission’s effort to review the conduct of the 2015 elections so as to build on the good practices and lessons learnt as we prepare for the 2019 general elections,” she added.

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