Sign of times?: Chaos at oathtaking ceremony for presiding officers

Teachers assigned as polling staff complain administration officials could not solve their problems


Our Correspondent July 23, 2018
PHOTO AFP

ISLAMABAD: Mismanagement and chaos marked the oathtaking ceremony of presiding officers for this week’s elections with not even water available for the officials.

Hundreds of teachers from various educational institutions — assigned for presiding officer duties — had been summoned to the Convention Hall in Islamabad on Sunday to take their oath from the district returning officers.

The polling staff pledged, for the first time, to fulfil their duties with honesty, integrity and impartiality without favouring any candidate or party.

Other staffers will take oath on the day of polling.

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But teachers complained of insufficient arrangements for the ceremony including lack of drinking water, a mechanism to mark attendance, prolonged absence of the returning officers (ROs) which stretched the hour-long event to over four hours.

There were also problems with the audio system of the Convention Centre as well and some sections of the hall missed half of the DRO’s address.

When it came to the question and answer session, there was no microphone for the teachers to relay their questions to the stage, causing teachers to shout, creating confusion.

The ceremony was a great example of mismanagement, complained a teacher who had just taken oath as a presiding officer.

“We were asked to leave after marking our attendance but no one knew who was responsible for taking the attendance, the presiding officer said, adding, “Long queues were seen at different corners of the hall.”

After the oath was administered, the teachers complained that the District Returning Officer (DRO) and the ROs for NA-52 and NA-53 and some officials of Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) officials disappeared from the hall.

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The DRO and ROs, who were supposed to supervise the entire process, preferred to leave the hall and sit comfortably somewhere in the conference rooms. Their supporting staff tried to deal with the problems of teachers but they were too sluggish and at times clueless, another presiding officer said.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2018.

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