It emerged on Wednesday night that the forthcoming Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections will be conducted by Hajiya Amina Zakari as acting Chairperson of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC).
Hajiya Zakari’s 5-year tenure expired on Tuesday, July 21 and she may have been given the nod to continue in office.
A source in INEC said Hajiya Zakari as acting INEC chairman is entitled to another 5-year tenure and may have been asked to continue on the job.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party had said it would not accept any election conducted by Mrs. Zakari, describing her as a ‘daughter’ to President Muhammadu Buhari.
On Wednesday in Abuja, Hajiya Zakari assured the nation that INEC would use the opportunity presented by the forthcoming Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections to continue to display its improved processes and rigour.
The Acting Chairperson gave the assurance while delivering the keynote address during the public presentation of the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room Report on 2015 General Elections, with support from British Department for International Development (DFID), held at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
Hajiya Zakari explained that the Commission would apply lessons learnt from previous elections in raising the bar during the Kogi and Bayelsa outings.
She said: “In conducting elections in both states, the Commission will apply lessons learnt from the previous elections beginning with the stand alone governorship elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states, and the general elections”.
She explained that the Commission would continue to encourage participation in the electoral process, pointing out that INEC will carry out Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise in both states, and “those registered will have their cards printed in timely fashion and voters’ transfers will also be supported for those two states.”
She called for continued support from Development Partners and Civil Society Organisations towards improving the electoral process, even as she assured Nigerians that: “INEC in partnership with the key stakeholders in the political parties, security and civic organizations will strive to ensure that both elections in Kogi and Bayelsa are transparent and well run”.
The Acting Chairperson warned that electoral malpractice will not be tolerated, as the Commission will continue to drive transparency and effectiveness.
“Any INEC official found wanting in the tribunals will be punished to the full extent of the law,” she said.
She disclosed that the Commission’s transitional plans needed to lay the foundation for the future.
The key areas she mentioned include: a continued drive for improvement of our internal processes, staff re-orientation and training, push for recommendations to the National Assembly (NASS) on electoral reforms such as ballot access restrictions to reduce voter confusion and the Diaspora voting, increased use of technology building on the card reader and e-Track processes introduced in 2015, improved internal and external communications to drive improved awareness with the public and staff and most importantly, a continued inclusive process with all stakeholders (political parties, civic organizations, security personnel, the NYSC, etc.
The high point of the event was the presentation of an achievement award to the immediate-past chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, by the Situation Room of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC).
Prof. Jega was full of appreciation for the recognition and called for continued support for the leadership of the Commission to consolidate on its previous success.