President Muhammadu Buhari overrules Professor Attahiru Jega, retired chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission and appoints Amina Bala Zakari as the first female acting chairperson of the electoral body
AFTER one month of inaction policy wise, the federal government moved swiftly to correct Professor Attahiru Jega’s last mistake as the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. Jega had handed over the mantle of leadership to Ambassador Ahmed Wali, instead of Amina Bala Zakari, who is the most senior officer in the INEC, saying that the affairs of the commission and future of the country were in safe hand, pending the appointment of a substantive chairman or acting chairman. Both Wali and Zakari are national commissioners and they are to retire in August and July 31, respectively. Zakari will be the first female to chair the electoral body. She studied Pharmacy at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and has held various appointments in government.
But eight hours after, President Buhari overruled Jega through Danladi Kifasi, head of service of the federation, who issued a statement announcing Zakari as acting national chairman of the commission. He said the appointment is with effect from June 30, 2015 until the appointment of a substantive chairman.
Jega’s tenure ended in June and he left with six other commissioners who were appointed on the same day with him. The commissioners who retired with Jega on June 30 were Col. M.K. Hammanga (Adamawa), Ishmael Igbani (Rivers), Professor Lai Olurode (Osun), Gladys Nwafor (Abia), Thelma Iremiren (Delta) and Nuru Yakubu (Yobe).
Jega expressed appreciation for the opportunity given to him and other INEC management staff to serve the country, saying: “We feel great; we thank God Almighty for the opportunity to serve the country. The future is bright for the commission and the country.”
Though the brief hand-over ceremony was a closed-door event, Augusta Ogakwu, secretary to the commission, said that it was just for the former chairman to hand over to another person since the federal government has not appointed a substantive chairman for the commission.
According to her, Wali was selected because his tenure will expire on August 11, with the hope that by then the government may have taken a decision on who to give the responsibility of running the commission for the next five years.
The secretary also revealed that in his farewell message, Jega urged the commission to ensure that whatever thing that has been gained in election management must not be allowed to go down because the people of Nigeria and indeed the world must have taken interest in the country’s election management system.
— Jul 1, 2015 @ 8.40 GMT