Abuja — Chairman of the Indepen-dent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Dr. Abel Guobadia, has approved new changes and reorganization of the Commis-sion to bring it in line with the challenges of the 2003 elections.
The re-organisation, THISDAY gathered, was based on the report of a consultancy firm engaged by the chairman on assumption of office in late 2000 to review the relevance of some departments and alleged lopsidedness in the staffing system of the commission.
The reorganization saw the reduction of the eight departments of the Commission to six. The new departments are Public Affairs, Estate and Works, In-formation and Communication Techno-logy (ICT), Finance and Accounts, Administration and Human Resources, and Operations Department.
The new Directors to man the departments are Steve Oseme-ke, Public Affairs Department, Chief Olusegun Akanni; heads the Finance and Accounts Department, Admi-nistration and Human Resources is now to be headed by Alhaji Ahmed Kagara, while the ICT department is to be headed by Tunji Adeshina. The Estates and Works department has a new Director in the person of Mr. Igbese. Operations department is to be headed by, Mr. Johnson.
Olusegun Adeogun, former Director of Public affairs was redeployed outside the headquarters. The Legal Department has been reduced to a unit and brought under the office of the chairman.
The re-organisation exercise confirmed THISDAY story published on December which hinted at the planned reshuffle in the commission.
THISDAY gathered that the Administrative secretaries in the 36 states are to be affected in the next line of re-organisation.
As part of the reorganization, the Department of Fields Services is now transformed into a stronger structure and renamed 'Operations department'.
Confirming the re-organisation, INEC National Commis-sioner in Charge of Information, Mr. Okpo Sam Okpo said that the exercise commenced over eighteen months ago, explaining that the commission wants to position itself to be able to meet the challenges of the 2003 general election.
"This is an exercise that is one and half years old. It has been going on gradually. What we have been doing is trying to re- position ourselves in such situation that we can deliver effectively for the 2003 elections." Okpo said.
He did not rule out lapses as one of the main reasons for the restructuring saying "lapses fine" but said "it is more of positioning ourselves for effective performance."
Okpo explained that the idea of restructuring INEC started when Guobadia assumed office in 2000 "when he raised a memo on what he saw and what he thought should be done. Don't forget the chairman was a former Director of Planning of the Nigerian Universities Commis-sion and acting secretary of the commission before joining INEC. He is conversant with organisations like this."
For instance, THISDAY gat-hered that the decision to downgrade the Department of Legal Services and make it a unit under the office of the Chair-man, may not be unconnected with the N124 million contract scandal that rocked the commission in August and the poor legal brief by the Director of the Legal Services, Mr. Abdulra-haman Madaki and his team which led to the aborted national convention of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
It was alleged that the director in charge of the department, Madaki, and his Deputy, Mrs. Eneh were fingered in the bribe scandal that rocked the commission in the scam, to the extent that N4 million and N2 million were allegedly returned to the office of Force Criminal Intell-igent Department (FCID) by the duo.