Akunyili, Umar, Jega for INEC chair

ABUJA—THE Presidency is considering six names as likely replacement for Professor Maurice Iwu as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Vanguard can authoritatively reveal.

According to sources in the Presidency, names being considered as likely replacement for Iwu include Prof. Attahiru Jega, a former president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim, rtd.Major-General Ishola Williams, president of Transparency Nigeria, Prof Dora Akunyili, immediate past Information and Communications Minister, Col. Abubakar Umar, former Military Administrator of Kaduna State, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, and former Nigeria Bar Association, NBA president.

Presidency sources said that Acting President Goodluck Jonathan was bent on leaving a legacy in Nigeria’s political history, and as such regards the civil society a veritable ally that would credibly contribute towards realizing his ambition.

Jega would be remembered for the pivotal role he played in forcing the government of General Ibrahim Babangida to improve the welfare of university teachers and properly recognize their role in nation building. Williams’name is synonymous with abhorence for corruption, hence he stands out as probably the only Army General who is not associated with questionable wealth.

Ibrahim is Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, a non-governmental organization in Abuja, and is no less known than the others for his Civil Society activities.

Agbakoba is regarded generally as an icon in human rights activities, having founded and run the foremost civil society group, the Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO. When the military had the nation in its stranglehold, Agbakoba stood out, deploying his knowledge of law in the fight against arbitrariness of the military. During that era, the CLO was the unofficial mouthpiece of the citizenry.

Three of the names were members of the President Umaru Yar’Adua 22-member Electoral Reform Panel, which in keeping with Yar’Adua’s seven-point agenda was inaugurated to review the electoral system to ensure that subsequent elections are credible to meet international standards. The panel had submitted its report to Yar’ Adua before the President took ill.

Vanguard can authoritatively reveal that the short-listing of the names, followed last week’s rejection of one of the key recommendations of the Uwais Committee, that the National Judicial Council, NJC, should be responsible for the selection of the chairman of INEC, to insulate the occupier of the position from undue political and partisan influence.

The Senate Committee on Constitution Review, had presented a revised constitution on the Senate floor last Thursday, rejecting the appointment of INEC chairman by the NJC.

The Senate’s review committee, headed by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, however, recommended that INEC and the National Assembly should be fully autonomous hence placing them on the first-line charge of the consolidated revenue fund.

The Senate report, however, indicated that INEC’s chairman and members of the board of the commission “shall not be members of any political party.”

Other recommendations of the Senate committee include that all election-related cases must be disposed of within 60 days of the date of filing such cases.

According to the committee, in the case of annulled elections, the eventual winner must have fresh tenure to start from the date of swearing-in, as the tenure of four years for executives at the federal and state level, was left intact.

The committee had further recommended that elections to the office of President shall be held on a date not earlier than 210 days and 80 days before expiration of the term of the last holder of that office.

The committee also recommended that all political parties must have their head offices in Abuja and each must always submit detailed annual statement and analysis of its sources of funds and other assets, together with a similar statement of expenditure in such form as the commission may require.

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