Buhari appoints Zakari INEC acting chairman

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday appointed Amina Bala Zakari the acting chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), following Professor Attahiru Jega’s completion of four-year term.

Zakari’s appointment, which took immediate effect pending the appointment of a substantive chairman, was disclosed in a statement signed by Haruna Imrana, the director of communications for the Head of Civil Service of the Federation. Zakari, who hails from Jigawa State (North West), had served as Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as Health Secretary (the equivalent of a state commissioner) under Nasir El-Rufai, the current governor of Kaduna State, when he was FCT minister.

Until her appointment as acting chairman yesterday, Zakari was one of the commissioners working under the supervision of Prof. Jega. Her tenure, as INEC commissioner, was to expire on July 21, 2015.

However, if appointed in substantive capacity and approved by the Senate, she may serve as chairman for, at least, five more years. Jega, who was appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010, served out his five-year term, having conducted two general elections in 2011 and 2015.

He officially bowed out of office as chairman of INEC yesterday and handed over the leadership of the electoral body to Mohammed Wali. Wali, a national commissioner of the commission from Sokoto State, is also expected to retire on August 11, 2015. Meanwhile, six national commissioners whose tenure has also expired are leaving the commission with Jega.

The commissioners are Col. M.K. Hammanga (rtd), Adamawa State (North-East); Dr. Ishmael Jikiri Igbani, Rivers State (South-South); Prof. Lai Olurode, Osun State (South-West); Dame Gladys Nne Nwafor, Abia State (South-East); Mrs. Thelma Amata Iremiren, Delta State (South-South) and Mr. Dr. Nuru A. Yakubu, Yobe State (North-East).

Apart from Zakari, the new acting chairman, three other national commissioners are to leave the Commission in July and August this year. They are Dr. Abdulkadir S. Oniyangi, Kwara State (North-Central), whose tenure will expire on July 21, 2015; Dr. Chris O. Iyimoga, Nasarawa State (North-Central), whose tenure will expire on August 11, 2015; and Ambassador (Dr.) Mohammed Ahmad Wali, Sokoto State (North-West) whose tenure will also expire on August 11, 2015.

At the end of the closed-door ceremony, Prof. Jega expressed optimism for a brighter future for the country and the commission, even as he thanked the authorities for the opportunity to serve Nigeria in that capacity. He said: “We feel great; we thank God Almighty for the opportunity to serve the country. The future is bright for the commission and the country.”

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