The fate of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, remains unknown, following the exclusion of his name in President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to the Senate, for confirmation of Commissioners of the National Electoral body,
Prof. Yakubu’s name was conspicuously missing on the President’s letter to the Senate seeking the confirmation of 4 persons as National Commissioners of INEC.
The letter, dated October 12, 2020, was read during plenary by the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, on Tuesday.
By explicitly excluding his name, Analysts believe that President Buhari has sent a strong signal of likely dropping Yakubu as the Chairman of INEC, ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The letter to the Senate reads: “Pursuant to Paragraph 14 of Part I (F) of the Third Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, I hereby forward for confirmation by the Senate, the appointment of the following four (4) Commissioners for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).”
The nominees listed by the President are: Prof. Muhammad Sani Kallah (Commissioner), Katsina State; Lauretta Onochie, Presidential Aide on Social Media, (Commissioner), Delta State; Prof. Kunle Cornelius Ajayi (Commissioner), Ekiti State; and Saidu Babura Ahmad (Resident Electoral Commissioner), Jigawa State.
The President’s nomination came 5 days after Page 36 published a report on the looming vacuum at the Commission.
The 5-year tenure of Yakubu and 5 National Commissioners, would lapse on November 9, and could get a second term, if the President so wishes.
Recall, that Professor Yakubu was sworn-in alongside 5 National Commissioners; Mrs. Amina Bala Zakari (Jigawa State) North-West; Dr. Antonia Taiye Okoosi-Simbile (Kogi State), North Central; Alhaji Baba Shettima Arfo (Borno State), North-East; Dr. Mohammed Mustafa Lecky (Edo State), South-South; and Prince Adedeji Solomon Soyebi (Ogun State), South-West.
A top INEC source however, said that there is an apparent confusion in the names forwarded to the Senate by President Buhari.
The source, who did not want to be named, said: “There appears to be some confusion here.
“Only one National Commissioner is going for now from the North-West, Hajiya Amina, but apparently two names were submitted from there.
“One should also be going from North Central, but none was submitted from there”, he said.
He also stated that President Buhari’s silence on Prof. Yakubu, has left people in the dark.
“My understanding is, if you are giving a member an extension, his name would still need to go through the same process as the first time.”
Elsewhere, the Senate Minority Caucus, kicked against the nomination of Onochie as INEC National Commissioner.
The Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said that by nominating his Aide, President Buhari has “wilfully gone against the Constitution”, and urged the President to withdraw the nomination.
“Item F, Paragraph 14 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) forbids a card-carrying member of a political party to be a member of INEC.
“The Minority Caucus of the Senate is against this nomination, and calls on Mr. President to withdraw it”, he stated.
However, Senator Kabir Barkiya (APC, Katsina), said that there is nothing wrong in President Buhari’s nomination of Onochie.
“The nominations were in order, except if the Constitution says otherwise.
“If the Constitution allows the President to nominate his Aide for INEC job, then the outcry is not necessary.
“But if it is against the Constitution, we will reject the nomination.”
More news later…