The INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, has assumed office as electoral chairperson for a second and final five-year term in office.
Mr Yakubu assumed office on Thursday at the Commission headquarters in Abuja, during the formal handing over by Ahmed Mu’azu, a retired air vice-marshal, who acted in the capacity as chairperson since November 9.
The INEC chairman thanked Mr Mu’azu for overseeing the affairs of the commission for the last 31 days and also for the conduct of the just concluded bye-elections in 11 states.
“The former acting chairman, Ahmed Mu’azu, the representatives of the various security agencies, directors, members of the technical committees, I want to thank Mr Mu’azu and the five national commissioners for overseeing the affairs of the commission, for the last 31 days.
“During that period, the national commissioners were able to successfully conduct bye-elections for 15 constituencies in 11 states of the country, including six senatorial districts, the equivalent of two governorship elections.
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“Each state of the federation has three senatorial districts, so when you conduct six senatorial bye-elections is like conducting governorship elections in two states of the federation.
“I thank him (Mr Mu’azu) for holding forth. The successful conduct of the elections under the acting chairman, supported by the five national commissioners is an indication of my policies over my last five years to nominate the national commissioner by rotation each time I was officially out of the country to oversee the affairs of the commission.
“In that way, all the national commissioners had, at one point or another, acted in my temporary absence.
“As a result, I thank the national commissioners, the Resident Electoral Commissioners who have joined us virtually for this ceremony. We will continue to discharge our duty.
Mr Yakubu also called on the senate committee on INEC for the quick passage of the electoral amended Act Bill.
He also said the commission would resume the continuation of voter registration in the first quarter 2021 that should last for six months until the next general elections in 2023.
“The quick bill passage of the electoral act amendment is a top priority and you will recall that I appealed to the senate committee on INEC, during my screening for confirmation two weeks back, meaning the legislative processes for the passage of the electoral act amendment by the first quarter next year.
“The Senate president has assured the nation, only yesterday, at the public hearing of the electoral act, that the national assembly is committed to that target that it is actualised.
“The commission is also going to continue the resumption voter registration exercise, which will continue also in the first quarter, at least for six months before the next 2023 general elections.
“We will continue to seek various ways to improve the quality of the register of voters, I am saying so because the credibility of any democratic elections draws from the credibility of the register of voters.
“Without (a) clean register of voters, we cannot have a credible Democratic election, and we are committed to doing so drawing from the lessons learnt in the previous exercise in 2017 and 2018.
On his part, Mr Mu’azu congratulated Mr Yakubu on his reappointment.
Mr Yakubu had handed over to Mr Mu’azu, following the expiration of his first five year-term in office.
He was sworn-in on Wednesday, by President Muhammadu Buhari at the statehouse in Abuja, following his confirmation at the senate early this month.
Although, his confirmation was sequel to the presentation of the report of the Senate Committee on INEC.
Kabiru Gaya, chairman of the committee, said Mr Yakubu was found suitable for the position, with no petition or incriminatory report against him.
Mr Yakubu was first appointed INEC chairman in November 2015 alongside five federal commissioners. He succeeded Attahiru Jega, who supervised both the 2011 and 2015 general.
His reappointment, however, makes him the first chairperson to serve the two-terms of 10 years as the electoral chair.
He would probably also supervise the 2023 presidential elections – beating the record of his predecessor Attahiru Jega, the former INEC chair who served only one term and oversaw two Nigerian general elections.