The Senate yesterday confirmed the reappointment of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu by President Muhammadu Buhari, as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for a second term of five years.
The president has also sought the approval of the Senate to appoint two commissioners for the commission.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) welcomed Yakubu’s confirmation, saying that although the country’s electoral processes are not perfect, marked improvements have been recorded in a series of recent elections conducted by INEC.
Yakubu, who was confirmed after the consideration of a report by the Senate Committee on INEC during plenary, received the support of all senators, including those of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Chairman of the INEC Committee, Senator Kabiru Gaya, while presenting the report, said the committee did not receive any petition or incriminating reports against the nominee.
According to him, the nominee possessed the requisite educational qualification for the position of chairman; and is a person of integrity who is not affiliated to any political party.
Speaking on the character of the nominee, Senator Sandy Onor (PDP – Cross River North) said: “Today, as a Senate, we are recognising the fact that there is a square peg in a square hole.
“This professor sitting in INEC has demonstrated competence and has shown indeed that he is an unbiased umpire. Today, politicians don’t go into elections scared of whether they’ll be oppressed or not. That is the reality.
“If you are with your people and doing the needful, you can trust that you will go to the field and win your elections. That is the kind of situation we have always asked for. I do believe that going by his performance in the first term, that he would do even better in his second term.”
Also, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP – Delta North), said: “Mr. President, two days ago, I read in the papers that PDP senators were opposed to the nomination of the nominee, and that today was going to be hot.
“But I’m very happy that the majority of the people who have spoken on the floor today are PDP senators supporting this nomination. That is to show that the belief or what people thought was going to happen, did not happen. We have disappointed those who thought we are going to oppose this nomination.
“Many of us have tried to see if we can link him to any political party, or any political association, and we have not found anything to the contrary. That shows that he is an unbiased umpire that is good and qualified.”
Senator Gabriel Suswam described Yakubu as a person of sound character and integrity.
“As other colleagues have said, the nominee has shown competence; he has shown integrity and an unbiased nature because in the past, most INEC chairmen have had to go through criticisms, especially from opposing parties.
“There is no person in the opposing party (PDP) who will oppose the nomination and confirmation of this man today because he has shown credibility in the process,” he stated.
The Senate also yesterday received a request from Buhari for the confirmation of two commissioners for the INEC.
The request was contained in a letter dated 27th November 2020, and read at plenary by the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan.
The nominees are Professor Sani Muhammad Adam, Commissioner (North-central); and Dr. Baba Bila, Commissioner (North-east).
According to the president, the request was made pursuant to Paragraph 14 of Part I (F) of the Third Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
However, reacting to Yakubu’s confirmation, the APC, in a statement by its Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Yekini Nabena, said the country’s electoral processes are not perfect.
It, however, added that marked improvements have been recorded in elections conducted in recent times.
The party congratulated Yakubu on his reappointment.
It stated: “The task before Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and the election management body he leads is to strive further in being unbiased and apolitical.”
The APC added that technological innovations recently introduced and deployed by INEC have improved the credibility and efficiency of the country’s electoral processes.
It stressed the need to continue to support and invest in these innovations and for INEC to remain apolitical.