INEC Chairman Steps Down, Pending Senate’s Confirmation

Mahmood Yakubu
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

•Hands over to Mu’azu as interim chair

By Chuks Okocha

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, yesterday stepped down as he awaits Senate’s confirmation of his nomination for the second term of five years.

Yakubu, whose first term expired yesterday but has been nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari, handed over the affairs of the commission to Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Mu’azu (rtd) as the acting chairman, pending his confirmation.

Mu’azu is the INEC National Commissioner in charge of the commission’s Tender Board.

Yakubu, at the handover, said: “As you are already aware, the renewal of my tenure as chairman of the commission has been announced, subject to confirmation by the Senate.

“Our work as election managers requires us to enforce the law, regulations and guidelines. In doing so, we must demonstrate strict respect for, and compliance with, the constitution of Nigeria and subsidiary laws.

“Consequently, it will be inappropriate for me to remain in office beyond today, November 9, 2020, without confirmation by the Senate and swearing to another oath of office as provided by law.”

According to him, pending his confirmation, “The remaining national commissioners have resolved that AVM Ahmed Mu’azu (rtd) will oversee the affairs of the commission.

“It is, therefore, my pleasure to hand over to him in the interim. We have worked as a team for the last four years. Therefore, there is nothing new to any one of them.”

Yakubu said he and the outgone five commissioners were sworn-in on November 9, 2015, followed by another six commissioners who were inaugurated on December 7, 2016 while one more commissioner took the oath on July 21, 2018.

Yakubu stated that INEC is a constitutional body whose members are appointed for five years, which may be renewed for a second and final term, adding: “This means that my tenure and that of the first set of five commissioners ends today.”

He thanked INEC members of staff, heads of the various security agencies deployed in INEC and others for the support given to his team, stating that he looks forward to working with them again.

Responding, Mu’azu said he accepted the responsibility reposed in him, adding that all the national commissioners at one point or another have acted in the absence of Yakubu.

“I want to assure you that I will handle the affairs of the commission with due diligence,” Mu’azu said.

The INEC commissioners whose five-year tenure ended yesterday are: Dr. Antonia Okoosi-Simbine (Kogi), North-central; Alhaji Baba Arfo (Borno), North-east; Dr. Mohammed Lecky (Edo), South-south; and Prince Adedeji Soyebi (Ogun), South-west.

Those that are still on board are Prof. Okechukwu Ifeanyi, who is the commissioner in charge of Electoral Operations; Malam Mohammed Haruna; Mu’azu; Dr. Adekunle Ogunmola, the INEC chairman on Outreach, Partnership and Civil Society (OPC); Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu, and Mr. Abubakar Nahuche, who resigned a few days ago on account of ill-health.

Meanwhile, the commission will between today and tomorrow consult with political parties and civil society organisations, the media and Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) on pending bye-elections.

The commission will, thereafter, meet again with resident Electoral commissioners on Thursday to decide on a date for the conduct of the bye-elections.

The outcome of these consultations will determine whether INEC will conduct the remaining National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly by-elections in 11 states.

INEC had earlier scheduled the bye-elections to hold on October 31, but due to the destruction of the commission’s property, during the #EndSARS protests, it was shifted indefinitely.

Feelers from INEC showed that due to the level of damage to INEC property and electoral materials, the bye-elections may not hold this year.