The Akwa Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Barr. Mike Igini, will address South Africans and the people of Malawi ahead of their elections come May, 21, 2019.
The call to serve which came on the heels of Igini’s proven integrity in the just-concluded general elections in Akwa Ibom State and Osun State in 2013, where he delivered Osun from Senator Omisore’s autonomously controlled Local Government Areas after the latter failed to return moonslide and landslide votes, as well as in Anambra, Imo, Edo, and Cross-River states where he carried out the same duty meritoriously, is coming from the United States of America.
Igini is expected at the Golden Peacock Hotel and Resorts in Lilongwe, Malawi, on Tuesday, May 14, to speak on achieving a “Credible and Peaceful Election.
It is on record that the election reformer is always entrusted with violence-prone areas by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), during elections, to water-down and stem the tides of irregularities bedeviling the areas.
The result of his astute doggedness led to the return of peace and calm in Imo State, in 2011, when the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and others, lost to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
A similar occurrence ensued in Anambra State in the 2012 Senatorial election. When he served as the Edo State REC in 2015, he was again called to go to Imo State where the elections were declared inconclusive. He ensured a “conclusive” election and returned to his duty zone.
These antecedents which has been witnessed by foreign observers across the globe is the reason for his clarion call to represent Akwa Ibom and Nigeria at large internationally.
The foreign observers saw the level of openness Igini birthed amongst party representatives and indigenous observers, how he took time to give out detailed explanation of processes and procedures, his calls for accountability and transparency from stakeholders as well as the professionalism, dexterity and zest employed in the discharge of his duties. They took these back home and reported him in good light thus, the calls for Igini’s midal touch in other countries’ elections.
Back in Akwa Ibom, Igini’s electoral prowess has trended and is still in the air. Irrespective of opposers and grievances, he safely piloted the affairs of the Akwa Ibom general elections and landed safely. Perhaps it was shocking to the All Progressives Congress (APC) that despite their investment in “Federal might”, they still lost out. And more painful to them is the fact that Igini paid them no special attention (which of course, applied to other parties).
On the 6th of August, 2018 at a meeting of stakeholders, Igini publicly showed on Powerpoint, the relocation of 22 polling units to private homes which Senator Akpabio and his APC group planned to use in winning the 2019 elections in 3 hours. Yet, the President and others who were privy to the information are on the REC’s neck today, condemning his proper conduct of the general elections in Akwa lbom state.
On the international scene, Igini was the only INEC Commissioner invited by the United States in 2018, in a delegation led by Libera’s former President, Ellen Sirleaf; the then interim President of the Central African Republic, Mrs. Catherine Samba-panza; former Assistant Secretary of the US for Africa, Ambassador Jonnie Carson and some congress fellows to Zimbabwe for the first election after Mugabe’s 38-year rule.
They were all invited based on reports of their integrity and commitment to due process.
When there were serious concerns in 2016 that the desperation by politicians may lead to a reversal of critical democratic thresholds in Ghana, which would rob the country of its place as a model in the western African region, he was also the only Commissioner, alongside the former Minister for Education, Oby Ezekwesili, invited by the U.S in a delegation led by Jonnie Carson, to meet with former Presidents Jerry Rawlings, John Kufuor, the late Kofi Anan, as well as the then sitting President John Mahama of Ghana, in 2016, to engage them on the need for a peaceful election that year, in December .
He also made his marks in Ghana when he met with Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, on the need for a peaceful and credible elections in Ghana this year. Before Akufo-Addo was elected in December 2016, our REC had left INEC in June 2015 yet, he was contacted from Washington D.C. to be part of the election delegation mission to Zimbabwe.
In all of these, it would be totally absurd and grotesque to insinuate or associate Barr. Mike Igini with anything that has to do with electoral manipulation as Akwa lbom state. The APC tried unsuccessfully to link him to such without proven evidence. He couldn’t have been this known if he had soiled his hands and reputation in the murky waters of election malpractices.
Those who helped Akpabio and his cohorts rig elections previously are nowhere to be found today because, corruption and filth do not last, they are like chaff driven away by the wind.
Affirmatively, the unrighteous do not last. No matter how they grow and spread, they wither and dry off. Else, where are all those whom politicians used in rigging elections in the past? They are nowhere to be found because their integrity has been destroyed by the very politicians they helped.
Apparently, Igini is not from a rich background but he has built his integrity before the local, national and international community. We should be proud to have a man as this in an era where some persons are soiling our name and reputation abroad.
Rather than condemn, crucify and castigate, let us encourage and celebrate that which is virtuous. Let it not be said of us that we’re enemies of progress and good things. Let’s not make Nigeria a dangerous place for people of honesty and integrity to thrive. And may envy and hatred not becloud our perception of right and the light.
Igini remains in his honour!