- Biometrics, chapter elections to hold before national polls
The Association of Igbo Maritime Practitioners in Nigeria (ASIMPIN) has distanced itself from a group which recently branded itself as a ASIMPIN Elders’ Forum, stressing that the Association’s constitution has no provision for Elders’ forum.
ASIMPIN’s executives led by the Secretary-General, Prince Okey Egbuchulam; National Publicity Secretary (NPS), Dr. Obicee Okonkwo; and the Senior Special Assistant to the President-General, Mr. Emeka Nwosu; yesterday argued that the purported members of the Elders’ forum aren’t recognized members of any chapter of the association.
Speaking at the press conference yesterday, Dr. Obicee Okonkwo said; “One must first be a member of a Chapter before you can lay claims to be a member of the whole body. You can verify from the ASIMPIN Constitution and other legitimate members of the association if there is any provision for Elders’ forum in the constitution; because there is nothing like that. So, before we begin to interrogate was these individuals said, we should note that they had no right to speak in any capacity on behalf of ASIMPIN”
The ASIMPIN NPS also cited the Article 7, Section B of the Association’s constitution which stated that; “MODE OF ELECTION: The mode of election into any office of ASIMPIN shall be by secret ballot. The National Executive shall be by collegiate while Chapter shall be elected by all Chapter registeredfinancially up to date members.”
He further explained that going by the constitution, a fresh national elections will only be conducted after the chapter elections holding first, even as he added that interested contestants must be financial members.
Obicee, however, explained that the new biometric system criticized by the alleged Elders’ forum was conceived to streamline the Association’s members to recognizable financially-committed members in Chapters.
He recalled that in the previous and only election of the association, there was the national elections first before the chapter elections before the body had just been formed and needed to create a leadership structure.
Also speaking, the Secretary-General of ASIMPIN, Prince Okey Egbuchulam revealed that at the recent national executives meeting the association agreed to introduce biometrics as part of efforts to know real members of the body so that non-members aren’t smuggled in during elections.
Egbuchulam added that the ASIMPIN executives had contracted a private company to carryout the biometrics capturing for its members and the executives also distributed forms to the respective chapters to be obtained at N1000 for raw data before biometrics capturing.
His words: “In September 2022, we had a NEC meeting at Villa Park in Lagos and we decided to do elections. However, to curb the fraudulent practice where candidates imported non-Igbos and non-members just for the sake of voting; we agreed that ASIMPIN’s Electoral Committee (ASIMPEC) will only be inaugurated after the biometrics and membership forms from the respective chapters have been completed.”
“Subsequently, we printed forms and distributed to all the chapters; but no chapter has been able to register one member. No one has gotten back to us that any single member has registered. We need the chapters to fully register their members before we arrange for the private company to do the biometrics. The private company we contracted for this biometrics has been calling us repeatedly, but we help telling them to hold on”
The ASIMPIN executives also dismissed claims that the biometrics capturing and manual registration of members are ploys to manipulate the electoral process, stressing that both activities will only strengthen the transparency and accountability in the association.