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I came here to count ballot papers, not to count money, Igini tells politicians

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By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

The 2019 general elections in the country may have come and gone except in some states where the exercise was declared inconclusive. However, the elections were not conducted without casualties and heroes.

While some politicians who had planned to compromise the system may be nursing the injuries sustained during the process, those who were close to the electorate are basking in the euphoria of victory.

For the first time since democracy returned to the country in 1999, political heavyweights and godfathers appear to have lost out in the elections. This is what ordinarily would have not been possible in the past.

In Akwa Ibom State among others, there were upsets that have since become a topical discourse within the political sphere. The elections in the state have also made the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, there, Mike Igini, a hero of democracy. This is due largely to the wide accolades he continues to receive from well-meaning Nigerians.

Interestingly, Igini has a track record of integrity and firmness in handling national assignments. The Akwa Ibom State REC may have taken these virtues along with him in the conduct of the 2019 general elections in the state.

Reports indicate that, on arrival in September 2018 for the polls in the state, Igini met with political stakeholders where he made clear his vision and mission concerning the task at hand.

One of the things the REC did not mince words informing the people was about his firm position to insist on only the right but not the wrong. For Igini, he was in Akwa Ibom to count the ballot papers and nothing else.

But it appeared Igini’s gospel did not sink into the skulls of some ‘heavyweight ‘ politicians who, apparently, thought that it was going to be business as usual. While those that had encountered the Delta State-born REC when he served in Cross River took him seriously, bearing in mind that, as far as Igini was concerned, cash was not the deciding factor but the votes, others did not.

For those who believed that “what anything cannot do, more money can do it”, it was their thinking that the hard posture of the REC was just to increase his price.

During an interaction with some people, Igini had posited, “On account of the historical challenges of electoral service delivery in this state, l told politicians when l arrived Akwa Ibom that elections would take place and they should go and prepare for real election because residual sovereign power of the people will speak very loud.

“And that there will be no more pre-writing of election results before they are held in the name of the people. It would appear now that some took my message seriously and others dismissed it because they had other plans without option B or C given all that we now know and have happened so far. We must keep public trust for the good of all and not betray it in pursuit of vanity.

“The outcome of the 2019 elections in Akwa Ibom state should best be judged not by the complaints or commendations for the loss or victory of big or small politicians but the equality of opportunity provided for all voters and the verdict of the people.

“My message to all stakeholders is that these elections will come and go, and after the elections, every institution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and all the personnel that worked must remember that there is a history book.

“There is a book that the history of these elections would be written and the role that each of the security agencies played will be recorded in that book and so shall they be remembered.

“I must also say that in the final analysis, there is a high court of history that will sit in judgment on these people over the roles that each and every one of us played either in the advancement of our democracy or the retrogression of our democracy.

“It will show whether we were men of courage, whether we were men of sound judgment or whether indeed, given the opportunity, that most of us that have been given today and people in the other institutions, we did the right things for our country.

“For me, the media must continue to stand tall and mighty in defence of democracy and the rule of law. Here in Akwa Ibom State, I have continued to reiterate my message to the people. I have come here to serve them and not to be served. I have come to serve them and I will serve them conscientiously.

“I have no vote to give to anybody. I have not come here to count money. I only came here to count ballot papers. Those who want compromise are the ones who are shouting there. I can tell you that.”

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