One of Nigeria’s most controversial entertainers and convener of ‘OurMumuDonDo’ movement, Charles Chukwuemeka Oputa, alias Charly boy or Area Fada, has claimed in a very lengthy post on Facebook that the former Director of ICT at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters, Engr Chidi Nwafor, has been demoted by the commission.
Charly boy’s post which had garnered hundreds of reactions and comments and shared 284 times, was in response to INEC’s redeployment of some of its staff members last month. Several blogs have also published the post on their pages.
The post reads: “WARNING: DANGER AHEAD. 2023 May not be free and fair. To all my obidient and Yusful (sic) children. Wahala dey [there is a problem]. Is INEC ready for a free and fair election in 2023? I don’t think so. EXPERTS IN ELECTION RIGGING HAVE REMOVED INEC ICT DIRECTOR.
“Look. The children of this world are badly SMARTER. I am beginning to entertain fears that INEC may not conduct a free, fair and transparent election in 2023. The latest redeployment of Engr Chidi Nwafor, the Director of ICT is a sign that all is not well.
“Engr Chidi #Nwafor was transferred from Abuja headquarters of INEC to Enugu. He was removed as INEC Director of ICT to a mere Administrative Secretary to INEC Enugu State.
“… Instead of promoting the brain behind this electoral innovation, he was demoted and transferred to Enugu as Administrative Secretary just 6 months to the election. Is Prof Mahmood and INEC ready for a free and fair election in 2023 (sic). There are already doubts. Please share to create massive awareness about this ugly development.”
Checks by Daily Trust revealed that on August 16, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr Festus Okoye, had in a brief statement disclosed the commission’s continuity with routine deployment of top officials including two Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and eight directorate level staff members.
In March, INEC had also redeployed 385 employees nationwide, as part of efforts to ensure efficient and optimal performance. The affected workers were either serving in their states of origin or had served for between 10 and 32 years in the same state.
Was Engr Chidi Nwafor demoted?
Perusing the statement issued by Festus Okoye, one could easily find that Engr Chidi was not the only director who was redeployed, as seven other directors were also affected by the shakeup.
Contrary to claims in the public domain, apart from Nwafor who is now administrative secretary, Enugu State, Mr Jude Okwuanu, administrative secretary, Enugu State was moved to Anambra State as administrative secretary while Usman Musa Wase, who was acting director, Human Resource Management, Headquarters, Abuja is now acting administrative secretary, Nasarawa State.
Others are Barr. Waziri Zanna, acting administrative Secretary, FCT now acting director, Human Resource Management, Headquarters, Abuja; and Godwin Wada Edibo, acting administrative secretary, Nasarawa State now acting administrative secretary, FCT.
Recall that in 2020, Mr. Osaretin Imahiyereobo, INEC’s former Director of Voter Education in Plateau State was also redeployed to take over as Administrative secretary in Bayelsa state.
Reacting to Nwafor’s redeployment, Prof. Mohammad Kuna, the Special Adviser to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said the exercise was normal.
He made this known during a panel discussion at a two-day workshop theme, ‘The role and impact of digital technologies in facilitating peaceful elections in Nigeria’ organised by the National Peace Committee (NPC), headed by a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd) and The Kukah Centre in Abuja recently.
Kuna said, “INEC has 37 offices across the federation and 774 local government offices across the local government areas in the country. It has over 16,000 staff spread across the country. The deployment and redeployment of staff is a normal exercise.
“INEC reserves the right to deploy its staff in places it thinks they can best perform the task given to them. Before this latest redeployment, there had been massive redeployment of over 500 staff members that didn’t raise any concern.
“This is necessary to help the commission to deal with the issues coming out of the 2023 elections. Every general election, these redeployments are normal. We did it in 2010, 2018, and we have done that of 2022. I don’t think this is abnormal.”
In the same vein, the chairman of IPAC, the umbrella body of all the political parties in Nigeria, Yabagi Sani, said there is no cause for alarm over the changes in INEC and that no one is indispensable.
He said, “Is there anyone that cannot be changed? Nobody is indispensable. Even though everybody’s contribution is required, nobody is indispensable. INEC as an organisation is alive to its activities. As you know, anything can happen. Individuals can die, or resign from office. What will you do in that case? IPAC commends the effort of INEC which shows that it is alive to its responsibilities.”
Similarly, the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Awwal Musa Rafsanjani said “It is in line with what we have recommended to INEC, that they must change some of their personnel in order to give confidence to Nigerians and prevent connivance with politicians.
“We have advised INEC on the possibilities of carrying out such reform and staff audit to create more confidence in the system. In the past, there have been some allegations (of collusion to manipulate elections) involving some staff.
“This reshuffling is in line with what TMG and some other CSOs wanted. If INEC is in doubt with some staff members, it needs to redeploy them since we were asking INEC to do something that will give more confidence to Nigerians because we didn’t want any suspicion that would emerge in the 2023 general elections.”
Demotion vs Redeployment
Workforce redeployment is when a staff member leaves their old role and assumes a new one within the same organisation. This could mean that they are taking a completely new role with a new title, are moving to a new location, or will start working with a new team. It all depends on the needs of the company and the worker’s strengths.
Demotion on the other hand is a compulsory reduction in an employee’s rank or job title within the organisational hierarchy of a company, public service department, or other body. A demotion may also lead to the loss of other privileges associated with a more senior rank and/or a reduction in salary or benefits. An employee may be demoted for violating the rules of the organization.
Contrary to the claim by Charly boy that the former ICT director of INEC, Nwafor, was demoted, Daily Trust can confirm that the claim is false as he is still a director with INEC as categorized by the Nigeria Civil Service Commission.
Nwafor was only redeployed from one department to another, which is normal in every formal organization. In addition, the post of administrative secretary is a directorate-level position.