Senate Okays Jega, 6 others for INEC Job


Chairman-designate of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Attahiru Jega and six national commissioners have successfully passed through screening at the Senate.

But the screening of two nominees was discontinued yesterday because the upper chamber was yet to receive security report on them.

The two, whose curriculum vitae (CV) were not with the Senate, are Mrs. Amina Bala Zakari (Jigawa-North-West) and Dr. Abdulkadir S. Oniyangi (Kwara-North-Central).

It was gathered that they were yet to be cleared by security operatives for the INEC job.
However, the six national commissioners that were confirmed along with Jega are: Mr. Nuru Yakubu (Yobe-North-east) Col. M.K. Hammanga, Rtd. (Adamawa-North-East), Dame Gladis Nne Nwafor (Abia-South-East) Dr. Ismail Igbani (re-appointed) (Rivers- South-South), Mrs. Thelma Iremiren (Delta-South-South) and Prof. Olayiwola Olurode (Osun-South-West).

President Goodluck Jonathan had earlier dropped Gen. Abdullahi Bagudu Mamman and Ambassador Mohammed Anka from the list of nominees he sent to the Senate.
They were dropped because they were found to be partisan and the President had promised to only keep those whose job would not be jeorpadised by their affiliations.

Most of the questions asked each of the nominees were tailored towards integrity and their vision for INEC. The thrust was capability to work in an institution that could ensure credible elections in the country.

Fielding questions from the senators, Olurode, social critic and sociology professor, pledged to stand firm with regard to justice and remain transparent. On the possibility of INEC meeting up with preparations for next year’s election given the enormity of work to be done within a short time, Olurode said there may be need to declare a state of emergency in this regard.

The university don denied accusations by some that he is a member of the Action Congress (AC).
He said he would support the suggestion that INEC monitors the campaign expenses of political parties so that they don’t spend beyond approved limits.

Yakubu, a former Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education (NABTE), told the senators that if cleared for the job, he would in conjunction with other national commissioners and the chairman, ensure a credible voters registration as a prelude to an acceptable election.

Yakubu stressed that his “public service record is an indication that given the opportunity, I will discharge this responsibility with the highest level of dedication.”
Igbani, who said he was Chairman of Political Parties Monitoring Committee in INEC before the expiration of his former tenure, pointed out that all political parties in the country, with whom he interacted extensively, would testify to the fact that he was very fair to all of them.

He said election results should be announced at the various polling booths before they are transmitted to the collation centres.
He advocated more internal democracy in the political parties, saying “internal democracy is a big problem in the parties.”
Mrs. Iremiren said the only way to curb election malpractices is to make sure that anybody found guilty should be made to face the music.

When Senate President David Mark put the question as to whether to approve and confirm the seven nominees, the response of the senators was an overwhelming “ayes” for each nominee.
Announcing their confirmation, Mark congratulated the new INEC commissioners and urged them to be transparent and ensure they conduct credible, free and fair elections in the country.

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