It was the end of an era, yesterday, when the former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, formally handed over to Amb. Ahmed Wali as acting chairman of the electoral body.
Following the handover, Jega said the future of the country and the commission were in safe hands.
However, after about eight hours as acting chairman, Wali was replaced as acting chairman by President Muhammadu Buhari who designated another national commissioner, Mrs. Amina Bala Zakari as acting chairman.
Jega, who was appointed five years ago by former President Goodluck Jonathan, bowed out with six national commissioners who were appointed the same day with him.
The commissioners who retired with Jega yesterday were Cojl. M.K. Hammanga (Adamawa), Dr Ishmael Igbani (Rivers), Prof. Lai Olurode (Osun), Dame Gladys Nwafor (Abia), Mrs Thelma Iremiren (Delta) and Dr Nuru Yakubu (Yobe).
The future is bright —Jega
Speaking with newsmen shortly after he bowed out, Jega expressed appreciation for the opportunity given to him and other INEC management staff to serve the country.
He said: “We feel great; we thank God Almighty for the opportunity to serve the country. The future is bright for the commission and the country.”
Though the brief hand-over ceremony was a closed-door event, secretary to the commission, Augusta Ogakwu, told Vanguard that it was just for the former chairman to hand over to another person since the Federal Government has not appointed a substantive chairman for the commission.
She explained that Wali was selected because his tenure will expire on August 11 with the hope that by then the government may have taken a decision on who to give the responsibility of running the commission for the next five years.
The secretary also revealed that in his farewell message, Jega urged the commission to ensure that whatever thing that has been gained in election management must not be allowed to go down because the people of Nigeria and indeed the world must have taken interest in the country’s election management system.
She said: “It was just a brief ceremony for the chairman to hand over to one of the commissioners, Amb. Wali, whose tenure will expire on August 11 and the Chairman has handed over to him pending the appointment of a substantive chairman by the government or pending when his tenure expires but we believe that we will soon hear from the government what will happen next.”
Following the handover to Wali, the Head of Service of the federation, Mr Danladi Kifasi in a statement announced President Buhari’s decision to appoint Mrs. Zakari as acting national chairman of the commission. He said the appointment is with effect from June 30, 2015 until the appointment of a substantive chairman.
Mrs Zakari is senior to Wali and she is due for retirement July 31.