The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday bagged the Leadership Newspaper’s ‘Government Agency of the Year’ 2020 award.
According to the newspaper, the award was conferred on INEC, under the Chairmanship of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, for successfully conducting the 2019 general election and other off-season elections, ignoring the antics of certain political actors in a tough political climate like Nigeria.
It added that INEC also successful conducted the elections amidst restrictions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Conducting fair, credible and transparent elections in an intemperate political climate like Nigeria, is not just difficult but requires unique expertise beyond technical capacity.
“That was general election and in subsequent off-season elections which saw some political actors attempting to undermine the process.
“However, the electoral umpire was able to rise to the occasion, mindful of the unpredictable political climate and the peculiar challenges thereof;
“INEC’s ability to ensure an effective administration of elections as seen in the successful conduct of the 2019 general election comprising the presidential, National Assembly, governorship, state assembly and the FCT area council elections a well as 11 end-of-tenure off-cycle governorship elections”, the newspaper said.
These, according to the Leadership Newspaper, included; Kogi, Bayelsa, Edo, Ondo, Anambra, Exit Osun, Kogi, Bayelsa, Edo and Ondo states, saying that was instructive but it did not come easy.
It noted that INEC, under the chairmanship of Yakubu, was able to conduct fair elections by collaborating with critical stakeholders, ensured that the right to vote was guaranteed and people’s votes counted, in line with democrat culture.
Reacting to the award, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the 2020 Leadership Conference and Awards held on Thursday, in Abuja, INEC pledged to continue to deploy more appropriate technology to deepen Nigeria’s electoral process.
Yakubu, who was represented by Mr Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee at the award presentation, said the award did not come as a surprise.
“As far as the commission is concerned this award means hard work, being honest and truthful to the Nigerian people. It means to continue deepening democracy, through appropriate technology.
“It means Nigerians trust the commission and they want us to do more than we have done before. It is just a call to continue to improve our electoral processes.
“INEC is a public trust, and from the beginning, we told Nigerians that we are going to be open, transparent, learn from our mistakes and improve the electoral process.
“To a certain extent the award did not come as a surprise because of our conducting elections within the context of COVID-19 pandemic and deploying appropriate technology in the electoral process.
“It means Nigerians are watching and are reviewing the electoral process. I think Nigerians are ready to give us the benefit of doubt.”
Yakubu assured that Nigerians would not be disappointed in them, as they continued to improve the electoral process.
“We will continue to do our best to improve on the electoral process. We will continue to deploy appropriate and relevant technology as we reduce human contact with the electoral process.
“We are committed to depending democracy and the electoral process.”
The theme of the 2020 award event was “National and regional insecurity: The role of political and non-political actors in stabilization and consensus building.”
It was reported that the government agency of the year was also awarded to the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19
The leadership Public Service Person of the year 2020 was won by the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; while the “leadership CEO of the year” went to Shola Akinlade, the CEO and co-Founder of PayStack.
The leadership person of the year was Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank; while the leadership e-commerce of the year award went to Jiji Nigeria.
Other awards included the Leadership politician of the year won by Gov. Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State and Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo state.
The leadership Governors of the year award was bagged by Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-olu of Lagos and Gov. AbdulRahaman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State.