The immediate past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Attahiru Jega, has been nominated winner of this year’s edition of the Charles T. Mannat Democracy award.
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems, IFES, based in the United States, administrators of the award, will present the award to Mr. Jega and other awardees at an elaborate ceremony in Washington D.C. on September 29.
Every year, IFES, a leading pro-democracy organisation that advocates improved electoral systems around the world, recognizes accomplishments of individuals in advancing freedom and democracy.
The organisation does this by bestowing awards on these outstanding individuals in honour of past chairs of its Board of Directors: Charles T. Manatt and Patricia Hutar, and Senior Adviser, Joe C. Baxter.
Mr. Jega would be honoured under the Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award category.
Three individuals are honoured each year in that category: one U.S. Democrat, one Republican and a member of the international community who demonstrate unwavering commitment to democracy and human rights.
Mr. Jega is the international figure chosen for the award this year, and he is being honoured for leading INEC to conduct one of the most credible elections in Nigeria’s history, even in the face of intimidation and sabotage by some of his own staff and officials of the past administration.
Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Congressman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) are to be honoured alongside Mr. Jega.
They will receive the awards at a special ceremony, co-chaired by IFES Board Director and Baker & Hostetler LLP Partner, Ambassador Tom McDonald and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP Partner June L. DeHart on September 29, in Washington D.C.
“Chairman Jega’s leadership was instrumental to Nigeria’s successful general elections in 2015,” said IFES President and CEO, Bill Sweeney.
“He deserves full credit for his efforts to increase the credibility and transparency of the electoral process under extreme logistical challenges, such as terrorist threats from Boko Haram, where failure could prove the catalyst for predicted election violence.”.
Mr. Jega’s expert management of the 2015 general elections positioned him as a credible election administrator, IFES said.
“The complex Nigerian electoral environment consisted of 69 million eligible voters, 155,000 polling booths and 700,000 temporary staff deployed across the country. These recent elections resulted in the country’s first democratic transfer of power.”
“I am deeply honoured to accept the 2015 Democracy Award from IFES,” Mr. Jega said in response to his nomination for the award.
“INEC’s long-standing partnership with IFES in preparation for the 2015 general elections resulted in a credible process accepted by Nigerian citizens and the international community. These elections have put Nigeria on the right path toward democratic stability.”
Mr. Jega, who left office as INEC Chairman on June 30, has returned to his lecturing job at the Bayero University Kano, where he was also a Vice Chancellor before he was appointed INEC boss in June 2010 by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Until his appointment as vice chancellor, he lectured in the department of political science.
He once served as national president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities [ASUU].
Mr. Jega remains the only chairman of the electoral body to organise two national elections – 2011 and 2015 elections.
Sometime in March, Mr. Jega indicated he would not accept tenure renewal.
“I am grateful to God,” he said at the time. “I was asked to come and contribute my own quota to the national development and I have done my bit to the best of my ability.”
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