President Muhammadu Buhari named Mahmood Yakubu, a professor of political history and international studies, as the substantive chairman of the electoral body.

As a result, all CONTROVERSY over the continued management of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by Mrs. Amina Zakari as acting chairman ended yesterday. 

The appointment of an acting chairman to steer INEC’s affairs drew flaks from some quarters, especially the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which argued that the appointment of an acting chairman was unknown to law.

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Mrs. Zakari, a Federal Commissioner of INEC for the Northwest, was appointed an acting chairman in June following the exit of former INEC chief, Prof. Attahiru Jega, whose five year tenure expired on June 29.
Besides, the PDP alleged that the acting chairman was a relation of the President. But, the President defended his action, saying he had constitutional powers to choose the head of INEC and that he appointment Mrs. Zakari based on merit and sensitivity to gender equality.

The PDP fears were allayed yesterday with the appointment of Yakubu, a scholar, many believe is in the mould of Prof. Jega.

Following Yakubu’s appointment, Mrs. Zakari will return to her former seat as Commissioner representing the Northwest in INEC.

Yakubu’s appointment was ratified yesterday at the first National  Council of State (NCS) meeting presided over by President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The appointment is however subject to the approval of the Senate.

The earlier delay in the appointment of a substantive chairman as well as national commissioners had raised concerns in some quarters, with observers arguing that their absence might jeopardise the governorship elections scheduled to hold in Kogi on November 21 and Bayelsa on December 5.

Many observers argue the courts could nullify the results of such elections, on the basis of INEC not being properly constituted as required by the Amended 1999 Constitution.

Reactions yesterday trailed Yakubu’s appointment, with some people hailing the development and stating their expectations.

The governorship polls in Kogi and Bayelsa states, would no doubt be litmus tests for the professor of history.

Those who reacted to Yakubu’s appointment included lawyers, spokesmen of registered political parties and representatives of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC).