Council Of State Confirms Mahmood Yakubu As Substantive INEC Chairman

Yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari named Prof. Mahmood Yakubu as the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The appointment was shortly after approved at the first meeting of the Council of State presided over by Buhari.

Five new national commissioners were also named for the commission.

The national commissioners are Mrs Amina Zakari (North-West), Dr. Anthonia Okoosi-Simbine (North Central), Alhaji Baba Shettima Arfo (North-East), Dr. Mohammed Mustafa Lecky (South-South) and Mr Soyebi Adedeji Solomon (South-West).

The South-East is said to still have a sitting national commissioner. The Council of State resolved that Ambassador Lawrence Nwuruku who is currently representing the South-east should remain.

Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State briefed State House correspondents at the end of the meeting.

Tambuwal said by the appointments, Buhari acted in conformity with the provisions of Sections 154 (1 and 3) and 156 (3) that gave him the powers to appoint a chairman and national commissioners of INEC, in consultation with the council.

He said the emergency meeting was called to approve the nominations because of the peculiar situation currently in the commission.

“The situation in INEC as of today is such that requires this emergency meeting to approve the nominations by Mr. President, because the law requires that a minimum of four commissioners should form a quorum in INEC.

“This is not the case today, because the tenure of 11 national commissioners of INEC had expired,” he said.

Tambuwal added that the council had agreed that from now on, the confirmation of appointment of INEC commissioners would be staggered. This was in view of the situation the nation found itself, where the tenure of all the commissioners expired almost at the same time.

To avoid this situation happening again, the governor said the council had agreed that the names of the next six commissioners should be submitted to the council for approval.

He said the names of those already approved by the council would be sent to the National Assembly for confirmation according to the law.

He also said that the issue of whether the INEC management that fixed the dates of the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states was not properly constituted and the decision illegal did not come up during the meeting.

“That is not a matter for the council to go into; it is a matter that is strictly under the purview of the commission itself. So, it didn’t come up at the council meeting,” he said.

To that effect, he said “Obviously, the new chairman and members of the commission (will preside over the forthcoming elections.)

Professor Mahmood Yakubu is taking over from the Acting Chairman of the Commission, Mrs. Bala Zakari. He was the former Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND.

The meeting started at about 11.10am and lasted for about an hour.

Former Nigerian leaders in attendance were Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar and Chief Ernest Shonekan.

Former Presidents Shehu Shagari, Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan were absent.

Also absent at the meeting was the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki.

Meanwhile, the Council also praised the former INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega on the success of the 2015 elections.

This was according to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu who spoke to the State House correspondents at the end of the meeting.

“The council noted and commended Prof. Jega for his laudable activities as the chairman of INEC. “The President directed that the secretariat should note the commendations. A letter of commendation may later be sent to the former INEC boss”, he said.

Also, on Wednesday, President  Buhari approved the appointment of Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, as the acting Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.

A statement by the Director (Press and Public Relations) in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Bolaji Adebiyi, said the appointment took effect from Wednesday (yesterday).

Oyo-Ita was the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Science and Technology until her appointment,.

She is from Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State.

The statement said the appointment “is a testimony of Mr. President’s implicit confidence and trust” in her ability to discharge the responsibilities of the office of Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.

On Tuesday, The Presidency had confirmed the exit of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Danladi Kifasi, describing it as “retirement.”

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