There are five National Electoral Commissioners in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), who are leaving the electoral body.
Two of them – Solomon Soyebi and Amina Zakari – have served out their allowable two terms of five years each. The remaining three have served single five-year tenures.
President Buhari had sent two separate nomination lists to the Senate on October 12 and 27 respectively, seeking the confirmation of his choice of nominees as National Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) for INEC.
The initial list sent by the president on October 12, sought confirmation of the names of four persons; Lauretta Onochie (Commissioner), Delta State; Mohammed Sani (Commissioner), Katsina; Kunle Ajayi (Commissioner), Ekiti; and Seidu Ahmed (Resident Electoral Commissioner), Jigawa State.
The list, however, drew public attention as it excluded the name of the former INEC chairperson, Mahmood Yakubu, whose tenure expired on November 9, adding to apprehension that he might not get a second term.
In the same vein, the nomination list also sparked outrage by many electoral stakeholders because of the inclusion of Ms Onochie, the personal assistant on social media to the president, with many describing her appointment as unconstitutional.
However, the second letter forwarded to the Senate by President Buhari on October 27, contained the nomination of Mr Yakubu to serve for a second five-year term in office.
If confirmed by the Senate, it would make him the first chairperson to serve a complete two-term of 10 years as the electoral chair. He would probably also supervise the 2023 presidential elections – beating the record of his predecessor Attahiru Jega, the former INEC chair who served only one term and oversaw two Nigerian general elections.
Mr Yakubu was first appointed INEC chairman in November 2015 alongside five federal commissioners. He succeeded Mr Jega, who supervised both the 2011 and 2015 general elections.
On Monday, he handed over to Ahmed Mu’azu, a retired air vice-marshal, as INEC acting chairperson, following the expiration of his five year-term in office.
Mr Yakubu supervised the 2019 general election and off-cycle elections in states such as Kogi, Edo and Ondo Osun, Anambra and Ekiti.
While many of the elections he supervised have been criticised by local and international observers for inadequacies, most commended the two most recent elections; the Edo and Ondo governorship elections.
The leadership of commission consists of the chair, who is the chief electoral commissioner; 12 other national electoral commissioners, with two appointed to represent each of the six geo-political zones in the country; and the Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) appointed at the state level from each state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and deployed to INEC offices outside their states of origin.
Members of the REC and national commissioners are appointed by the president to serve a five-year term, which is renewable and subject to the Senate confirmation by law.
Among the 12 national commissioners, five INEC commissioners who were appointed as commissioners in 2015, were not renominated by the president, thus making them disengaged from the commission.
The departing commissioners include Solomon Soyebi (Ogun), South West; Amina Zakari (Jigawa), North West; Shettima Arfo (Borno), North East; Muhammed Lecky (Edo), South-South; and Anthonia Simbine (Kogi), North Central.
Some of these commissioners who did not make the re-nomination list by the president have already completed single terms in office are as follows.
3) Shettima Arfo
Mr Arfo supervised Yobe, Gombe, and Bauchi states (North East) zone, during his one year term as an INEC commissioner.
Before he was appointed National Commissioner, Mr Arfo served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministries of Information, Education, Health, Commerce and Establishment in Borno State.
4) Muhammed Lecky
Mr Lecky who hails from Auchi, Edo State, during his single five-year term as a National Commissioner for INEC, supervised three states, Cross River, Akwa-Ibom, and Delta (South-South) region.
Before his appointment, he worked as an international consultant and then as a National Project Coordinator for the World Bank-funded Nigeria Health Systems Fund Project/Health Systems Development Project.
As a health expert, he also served as the chairperson, the local organising committee for the International 2nd High-Level-Forum (HLF) on MDGs, Abuja, 2004; co-chair of LOC for the Abuja HIV/AIDS Summit, 2001; consultant to WHO Headquarters on Information Systems Strategy; and was appointed a WHO African Regional Expert on Health Information Systems.
5) Anthonia Simbine
Ms Simbine supervised Kaduna, Niger, Plateau state and the FCT, Abuja in the commission.
Until her appointment, she was a researcher at the federal government-owned Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research in Ibadan, Oyo State, where she rose from a youth corps member in 1984 to the rank of research professor in 2010 and Director of the Social and Governance Policy Research Department.
The two commissioners below are not eligible for renomination having completed their second five-year tenures.
1) Solomon Soyebi
Mr Soyebi is a prince of the Ikereku family of Egbaland in Abeokuta, Ogun State. He was appointed acting INEC chairperson in May 2010 following the expiration of Maurice Iwu’s tenure.
Before then, he had served as the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Abia State and the National Commissioner in charge of Electoral Operations.
Mr Soyebi, before his tenure expired on November 9, had served two terms and was Chairman, Board of Electoral Institute.
2) Amina Zakari
Like Mr Soyebi, Ms Zakari is also a former acting chairperson of INEC, following the elapsing of the tenure of Mr Jega in 2015.
In the wake of the 2019 general elections, Mr Yakubu appointed her as the head of the election collation centre for the commission. Her appointment, however, stirred controversies with many alleging that she is the niece of the president, hence making her integrity questionable.
She was the Chairperson of the Health and Welfare Committee of the Commission. She had also served two terms.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...