By Ibidapo Balogun
Prof. Attahiru Jega formally bowed out of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday as Chairman following the expiration of his five-year tenure. Six other national commissioners whose tenures had also expired have also left the commission.
As Prof. Jega was leaving, he handed over to one of the National Commissioners who has up till August before the expiration of his own tenure, Ambassador Mohammed Wali.
But there was a tinge of drama, as within one hour of his handing over to Wali, President Mohammadu Buhari appointed another national commissioner, Mrs. Amina Bala Zakari, as Acting Chairman of INEC to take over from Jega.
The announcement of Mrs. Zakari’s appointment was conveyed in a statement by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Danladi Irmya Kifasi.
Mrs. Zakari’s appointment is with effect from June 30 when Jega’s tenure expired, and she will be in charge until a substantive chairman is appointed.
In a brief ceremony in his office, Prof Jega handed over to Wali. Ambassador Wali’s tenure as National Commissioner will expire on August 11, 2015.
Jega explained to the National Commissioners who attended the handing over ceremony that he had written a letter to the President reminding him that his tenure would expire on Monday June 29 and that he had proposed to hand over to one of the National Commissioners whose tenure was yet to expire.
He thanked Ambassador Wali for accepting to act as Chairman of the Commission in spite of the short notice he was served.
Jega gave the Acting Chairman the following documents:
- Handing over notes;
- Detailed reports with appendixes;
- Reports from the departments;
- Three attachments on specific reports/projects being funded by the Ford Foundation and UNDP;
- Financial statement; and
- Up to date Statement of Account.
Jega said he was leaving gratified and thankful to Almighty Allah.
He thanked the National Commissioners for their camaraderie, teamwork and support.
Said he: “May God Almighty continue to bless all of us and our future endeavours. I wish you the best.”
In his response, Ambassador Wali quoted Shakespeare, saying Professor Jega came, saw and conquered.
Wali lauded Prof. Jega for raising the status of the Commission.
He said the six weeks during which he would serve would be critical as the Commissioners remaining had to work together to sustain the momentum of the reforms initiated under Jega’s watch.
Wali expressed confidence that with the support of his colleagues the Commission should be able to measure up.
He promised to host a befitting send-off party for the outgone Chairman and the other National Commissioners whose tenures had expired.
Seven National Commissioners attended the ceremony. They are: Dr. Ishmael Igbani, Engr. Dr. Nuru Yakubu, Dr. Abdulkadir Oniyangi, Hajiya Amina B. Zakari, Dame Gladys Nne Nwafor, Barr. Thelma Iremiren, and Ambassador Lawrence Nwuruku.
Jega had earlier indicated he was not seeking re-appointment. He would be heading to the Bayero University, Kano where he came from to continue his teaching career.