10th November 2020.
After five eventful years of meritorious service, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu on 9th November vacated his office as his tenure came to an end. He was sworn in on 9th November 2015.
Five other National Commissioners – Prince Solomon Soyebi, Mrs. Amina Zakari, Prof. Antonia Okoosi-Simbine, Alhaji Baba Shettima Arfo and Dr Mustafa Lecky – who were sworn in with Prof. Yakubu on the same day, also vacated office as required by law.
Although, President Muhammadu Buhari recently nominated the INEC helmsman for a second term of five years subject to confirmation by the Senate, but Prof. Yakubu told an impressive audience comprising senior INEC Staff members and journalists at a brief handover ceremony held at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja that it would be inappropriate for him to remain in office beyond 9th November.
He explained: “As you are already aware, the renewal of my tenure as Chairman of the Commission has been announced, subject to confirmation by the Senate. Our work as election managers requires us to enforce the law, regulations and guidelines. In doing so, we must demonstrate strict respect for, and compliance with, the Constitution of Nigeria and subsidiary laws. Consequently, it will be inappropriate for me to remain in office beyond today, 9th November 2020, without confirmation by the Senate and swearing to another oath of office as provided by law.”
Pending the conclusion of the statutory process, Prof Yakubu said the remaining National Commissioners had agreed that Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Mu’azu (retired) would oversee the affairs of the Commission as Acting Chairman. He thanked Commission members, Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), his technical team, Secretary to the Commission, Director General of the Electoral Institute, Directors and other stakeholders for their support over the last five years.
Responding, the new Acting Chairman pledged to discharge his duties to the best of his ability and handle the affairs of the Commission with the seriousness it deserves. He said all National Commissioner had, at one time or the other, acted in the absence of the Chairman. “We should therefore see the present arrangement in this light and nothing more,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the outgoing National Commissioners which he described as “Batch A” and unique, Prince Soyebi said the Commission had, in the last five years, given a good account of itself despite several stormy waters. He said: “Initially, people were calling us ‘inconclusive commission.’ But as time went on, people started begging for inconclusiveness. They would tell us that this or that election should be declared inconclusive. This is because the Chairman ensured that we did the right thing and that votes determined the outcome of any election that we conducted.”
He added: Secondly, for the first time in history, this is the only Commission that actually embarked on the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) as prescribed by the Constitution. We have come across a lot of challenges. We have been courageous. We upheld the law, we have not disobeyed a single court order and of course, we have not broken a single law.
“We want to thank the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Mr. President for giving us this rare opportunity to serve the country out of millions of Nigerians. We wish our colleagues that we are leaving behind well.”