The acting INEC Chairman, Mrs. Amina Bala Zakari speaks on her new responsibilities, the preparations for the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states and denies she is an in-law to President Muhammadu Buhari.
What are the things left undone by the former INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, which you have to contend with now?
There is a lot that has been done in terms of processes to conduct credible elections. The main issue now is to make our staff and internal processes more efficient. It has been a tough five years. When we came in five years ago, it was like a new commission. We did a lot of restructuring, re-organisation and strategic planning. So many things were happeningCVR, permanent voter cards, electionand the commission is the only agency that can conduct governorship elections and by-elections. So it wasn’t an easy five years. But thank God, we were able to surpass the expectations of Nigerians.
Within those processes, however, we discovered a lot of human errors. Things that could be done easily were made more difficult because of the understanding of Nigerians, training of ad hoc staff and so many other issues. So, the concentration now is to inculcate some values. People need to understand that they have to work on a daily basis. They have to utilise their processes. In fact, we are working on a business process review, and I am chairing the committee. We have gone far in mapping out our business processes. All we need now is to keep on sensitising the staff so that we can have a changed management.
We have done all we needed to do in terms of restructuring and re-organisation. But there is change management and that is one of the handover notes. The other handover issue is increased use of technology in the electoral process. I believe the use of technology increases transparency and efficiency of any process and we also need to sensitize our staff on the need to be ICT-efficient. This is the message I gave them all.
In every election now, we must ensure that the staff is adequately trained. We must provide capacity building. We must go back and get those who are technologically ready, because if God willing I am allowed to continue, we are going to increase the use of technology. Even in our day to day activities, we realise we have a dearth of data management. After an election, you don’t know who conducted the elections. Who were the ad hoc officials? So that we can have a data bank of who has done elections before, so we could use them. With little training, you could re-use them, but every time we want to have an election now, we have to start all over again. So, if we have hands at the lower level who are technology-savvy in the use of computer, data management would not be an issue.
I can’t say the general is my in-law. I am not married to his son and my daughter is not married to him. That is what I understand about being an in-law. But obviously, in life, you have acquaintances, people you have known. But I think people should not get distracted by this ‘family or no family’. Am I competent? Can I deliver? Can I conduct my affairs with integrity? The President’s message is for people to be honest and to have integrity