EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: AKISIEC Chairman Denies Membership of any Political Party • Says four different party governors emerged under him as REC

By The Evangelist News edition, Saturday November 18, 2023. Admin.

The Chairman of Akwa Ibom State Independent Electoral Commission (AKISIEC), Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak, has vehemently denied claims that he is a staunch member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Addressing the allegations in an interview in Uyo on Friday, Elder Ikoiwak clarified that he has no affiliation with any political party, before or after his appointment as Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

He highlighted his track record of conducting elections in various states, where different political parties emerged victorious at the gubernatorial level. Elder Ikoiwak attributed his success to his unwavering focus, diligence, and refusal to be compromised, regardless of the parties involved.

He further emphasized that conducting an election does not make him a member of the winning party. Recounting his experiences, he mentioned instances where parties such as ANPP, ACN, and APGA emerged victorious over incumbent PDP governments in Bauchi, Edo, and Imo states, respectively. He also pointed out that the PDP won in Rivers, Delta, and Bayelsa states during his tenure.

Elder Ikoiwak dismissed the notion that his neutrality was compromised, citing an incident during a supplementary election in Imo State where a governorship candidate accused him of accepting a bribe. Despite the unfounded allegations, the candidate eventually won the election.

Hear him; “So when people accuse me of being a member of a particular political party, I tell them they are mistaken. If conducting elections and a party’s victory automatically implies my membership, then I should be a member of APGA, PDP, ACN, ANPP,” he clarified.

“When I was assigned to conduct a supplementary election in Imo State, the politicians vying for office were already seeking me out even before my arrival. To ensure my safety, I booked and stayed in three different hotels. A day before the election, a friend from Eket contacted me, and I informed him of my location in Owerri, Imo State. Surprisingly, he arrived at my hotel with two other men. I left them there and discreetly moved to another hotel through the inner room.”

“Despite their unsuccessful attempts to reach me, one of the governorship candidates spread rumors that I had received a hefty bribe from his opponent, which explained my refusal to entertain their offers. I disregarded these allegations and remained focused on my duty to ensure a credible poll. Ultimately, he emerged as the winner of the election.”

He further emphasized that politicians would not approach someone who consistently follows due process and upholds integrity.

“In that same election, the politician that questioned my integrity; however, he won by a significant margin against his opponent. They even resorted to using a new phone with a newly registered SIM card to reach me, but I declined their request. I’m sure he believed that I had succumbed to the highest bidder, but he still emerged victorious. My disappointment stemmed from his doubt in my integrity, as he concluded that I had received more money from his opponent,” he added.

The AKISIEC Chairman expressed his disdain for politicians who engage in bribery and criticized voters who sell their votes. He stressed the importance of a mindset reform and reorientation to address these issues, emphasizing that such practices lead to underperformance from elected officials.

Regarding the recently concluded general elections, Elder Ikoiwak acknowledged that the expectations of Nigerians were high, comparing it to a situation where a child promises a perfect score but achieves a pass grade. He commended the transparency of the election process, where voters saw their names on the voter register, exercised their right to vote, and witnessed the outcome reflecting their choices.

In order to ensure accountable and effective governance, Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak underscored the importance of electoral officers upholding integrity and transparency when conducting elections. He attributed his success to his active involvement in the electoral process, including the distribution of materials and ensuring that officials adhere to established rules.

U He also mentioned instances where he replaced Electoral Officers with Assistant Electoral Officers when he deemed them incompetent, thereby preventing potential loopholes.

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