Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has warned vice chancellors of federal universities against nominating card-carrying members of political parties as returning officers for the 2019 elections.
He gave the warning on Thursday at the CVC Secretariat in Abuja in an emergency meeting with the VCs.
According to the INEC Chairman, collation of results would take place in 8,809 registration area or wards, 774 local government areas and 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. He added that the commission would require the services of 10,603 staff to support the various collation and declaration processes.
"We have requested each university for a specified number of academic staff as contained in my letter to the vice chancellors. Staff who are card carrying members or have participated in partisan politics should not be nominated. Similarly, those who may not be involved in partisan political activities but are known to have obvious political leanings should not be nominated," he said.
He explained that the commission would take its time to scrutinise the list, which will be compiled by the vice chancellors, just as he urged them to resist the temptation of lobbyists. He stated that the commission drew the required collation and returning officers from the academic staff of federal universities.
A total of 73 candidates are contesting in the presidential election, 1,904 for senatorial and 4,680 for the Federal House of Representatives elections, bringing the total to 6,657 candidates contesting for 470 seats.
The final list of candidates for governorship, state Houses of Assembly and FCT Area Council elections will be released on January 31, 2019, in accordance with the commission's timetable and schedule of activities.
Professor Kyari Mahmud, vice chancellor of Moddibo Adama University of Technology, Yola , spoke on behalf of the vice chancellors and assured the commission of their commitment to free and fair elections.
"We are committed to deepening Nigeria's democracy and we hope and pray that all vice chancellors will participate actively to ensure that Nigeria get free, fair and credible elections in 2019," he stated.