The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Friday, issued the certificate of return to Gov. Hope Uzodimma of Imo, following his victory at the November 11 Governorship poll.
In a remark at the brief ceremony in Owerri, Uzodimma promised to enthrone a legacy that ensures rancour-free politics in the state.
He also pledged to run an inclusive government “where the interest of every Imo man and woman would be accommodated”.
He acknowledged the contributions of all segments of society that ensured his victory.
He commended his running mate, Mrs Chinyere Ekomaru, who also received a certificate of return at the event.
The governor said that her emergence made her the second female deputy governor since the creation of the state in 1976.
He also commended INEC for conducting the freest, fairest and most peaceful election in the history of the state.
“I also acknowledge and thank the security agencies for working hard to deliver what has been widely adjudged a credible poll, the integrity of which cannot be questioned.
“By holding the sanctity of the electoral process, INEC has deepened our democracy with assurance that our votes will always count,” he said.
The governor urged his opponents in the election to see beyond their immediate environment and commend INEC for doing a beautiful job.
“As usual, critics have been weaving their conspiracy theories without taking into consideration the factors that shaped my victory.
“I am glad to say that I deserve this victory because not only that Almighty God made a way for me, I strategised and worked very hard for it,” he said.
Uzodimma, therefore, said the grace of God, his sterling performance in four years and his initiative of the Imo Charter of Equity propelled his victory at the poll.
Earlier, INEC’s National Commissioner for South-East, Mr Kenneth Ukeagu, said the issuance of the certificate was in compliance with Section 72 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
Ukeagu said that the commission remained independent, non-partisan and committed to its constitutional mandate in conducting free, fair, credible and transparent elections.
“In the execution of this mandate, the commission is permitted to deploy technologies to strengthen the process, including the use of the BVAS, iRev portal as well as capacity deployment of its entire staff,” he said.
He assured Nigerians that the commission would continue to build and improve on the gains recorded so far.
The national commissioner further said that the commission would not waiver in upholding the sanctity of the ballot as well as the continuous improvement of the electoral process.
In an address of welcome, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Sylvia Agu, commended the various stakeholders for their roles in the first ever off-cycle governorship election in the state.
Agu said the victory recorded at the poll was an evidence of the hard work of the winners and a reflection of the trust the electorate have placed in their leadership.
“As the time for campaign has ended and time for governance is ahead of you, I encourage you, sir, to be the leader and governor for all.
“Let the trust that Imo electorate bestowed on you at the polls propel you to deliver on your campaign promises to them.
“May it also spur you to live up to your mandate as the governor of all.
“I call on all our stakeholders, regardless of your political affiliations and ideologies, to remain united as brothers and sisters and harmoniously build a state, where peace, progress and inclusivity will be a priority,” she said.