According to a premium times exclusive report, a top INEC official after serving as a referee for Nigeria’s electoral process for over four years, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Benue State, Nentawe Yilwatda, has resigned from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), while hurriedly joining the politics.
Mr Yilwatda, a former engineering lecturer at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, was appointed REC in July 2017 and posted to Benue State. During his four-year stay in office, he participated in the conduct of elections in Benue, Anambra, Osun, Rivers and Cross River states.
But in December 2021, the 53-year-old electrical/electronics engineer suddenly resigned from his post and relocated to his native Plateau State, north-central Nigeria, where he immediately began romancing the governing All Progressives Congress (APC).
When contacted Wednesday, the former REC said he stepped down from INEC for personal reasons. He also confirmed that he had joined partisan politics.
He, however, said he was yet to formally join the APC but that he would be doing so “very soon”.
INEC also confirmed to the newspaper that the former lecturer had since left the electoral body.
“It is true that he resigned,” Festus Okoye, the INEC commissioner for information and voter education, said. “He has disengaged from the Commission.”
Mr Okoye said he is unaware of the real reason for Mr Yilwatda’s departure from the Commission before the expiration of his five-year tenure. But this newspaper can report that the official resigned to enable him to join the governorship race in Plateau State.
He has since commenced a massive campaign to clinch the gubernatorial ticket of the APC later this year ahead of the 2023 Nigeria general elections.
On January 9, the former REC announced the commencement of his campaign via his Facebook Page saying his ‘Generation Next Philosophy’ is predicated on
“harnessing the potentials, creativities and capacities of this generation to consolidate on the efforts of our leaders past devoid of political, ethnic or religious bias to deliver a secured, united and prosperous plateau to the next generation”.
Mr Yilwatda also recently unveiled a campaign website where he described himself as a “2023 governorship candidate”.