A former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Attahiru Jega, said on Monday that the national electoral body would be better off if the federal government through the office of the president does not directly appoint its chairman.
Mr. Jega said this could be achieved if a legislation is made to that effect.
The former INEC boss, who coordinated the 2011 and 2015 general elections, stated this at a public lecture organised by the Aminu Kano Centre for Democratic Research and Training, Mambayya House, Kano.
He specifically mentioned the need for an independent appointment of the INEC chairman when he was fielding questions during the lecture titled ‘Electoral Democracy and Integrity in Nigeria: Reflections on INEC’s Transformation 2011-2015.’
The professor of Political Science emphasised the imperatives of having an autonomous INEC in terms of funding and appointment of its chairman as well as its commissioners, describing it as a critical factor for achieving more credible elections in the future.
He expressed worries that the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Muhammed Uwais-led electoral reform committee had recommended that INEC should be given autonomy to appoint its chairman and commissioners, but the executive did not accept the recommendation.
“Still the president nominates INEC’s chairman”, he said.
“It is important to legislate the appointment of the INEC chairman. Despite the fact that Nigeria had achieved a lot, there was need for more reforms.
“Ghana that we celebrate has the worst process of appointing chairman of its electoral body. Once the president nominates, the nominee will obviously emerge as chairman and will stay on that position until he reaches his retirement age, which is 70,” he said.
He, however, agreed that the present INEC enjoys relative autonomy in terms of funding as recommended by the Uwais-led committee.
“INEC currently has account with the CBN where it controls all its money. This has given the commission relative autonomy in terms of funding; once money is released into its account, it can control it,” he said.
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