My Greatest Regret – Jega | Independent Newspapers Limited
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My Greatest Regret – Jega

Posted: Jun 16, 2015 at 1:40 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Joe Nwankwo –  Abuja


The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Attahiru Jega, on Monday declared that one of his greatest regrets as chairman of the commission was his inability to create a separate salary structure for the staff of INEC.

Speaking at the opening of a retreat for the staff of the commission in Abuja, Jega congratulated them on the successes recorded in the 2015 general elections.

According to him, “My major regret which I have always acknowledged is that a major undertaking that we made when we first came in as a commission which is to have a separate salary structure for the staff of the commission, we have not been able to get. And obviously, this is one area where we still have to do a lot of work and put a lot of effort as we move ahead and to improve the welfare of the staff.

“May I especially join in congratulating all the electoral officers here present, for your very commendable role to the success of the 2015 general elections. I commend you for that role, we are very happy of that role, as we are all aware that not only Nigerians but friends of Nigeria all over the world have been appreciative of our efforts to deliver free, fair and credible elections in our country. You have worked very hard, tirelessly under very difficult circumstances to get this outcome.

“Obviously, we recognise that in spite of our best effort, we have not been able to create the best environment under which you are to do your jobs. But in spite of the constraint, in spite of the difficulties and the challenges, you have all done your best and your best this time around has been recognised as good enough. As a commission, when we came in 2010, as many of you are aware, we made an undertaking to do our best together with all the INEC family to continue to improve on the electoral process. We had extensive discussions, assessments and studies leading to the 2011 general elections.”

Prof Attahiru Jega, INEC-Chairman

Prof Attahiru Jega, INEC-Chairman

The INEC Chairman said: “We were able to conduct the 2011 general elections which have been widely recognised, we have lifted the bar and made the 2015 general elections better than virtually all the other general elections in the country. We could have rested on our oars but we knew that the 2011 general elections were not perfect; that there was tremendous room for improvement and we worked very hard in the last four to five years to prepare for the 2015 general elections.

“I think that 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 tremendous effort and undertaking of many of us to learn from our mistakes, to take measures to learn from those mistakes, to continue to do our best for our country.”

Jega stated that “soon after the 2011 general elections, we created a retreat similar to the one that we are having today, where virtually all of you who were EOS at that time were at that meeting. We discussed, we said we should feel free under what we called at that time the ‘charter rules,’ with full diplomatic immunity to discuss what were the things that we didn’t do well in 2011, which we needed to improve on. You were very honest, you were very sincere, you were very frank and you made very tremendous suggestions about how we could continue to improve the conduct of elections in our country beyond 2011.

“We will try and do what we did in 2011. Basically, everybody is free to speak openly and frankly and sincerely. Let us not waste time discussing what we did right, what we did right was good and it has helped us to have a good election in 2015 but let us focus on what we did wrong. What were those things that we shouldn’t have done which you have observed as field officers that we did, which we need to correct or improve on as we move towards the future.

“There is no doubt that for our country to continue to develop, we need good elections. Good elections, well conducted elections will result in the election of good people which can drive the process of governance very well and deliver good governance for our people in terms of satisfying the need and aspirations of our people through the governance process,” he said.

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) Country Director, Shalva Kipshidze, while congratulating the commission for the successful conduct of the 2015 elections said: “We also thank you for the opportunity for us to work with you before, during and after 2015 elections. Although the 2015 elections have been seen as the best elections in your 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 2019 general elections.”