By Angela Atabo
The National Integration Forum (NIF) has urged the Senate to confirm the seven National Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
This is contained in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday by Alhaji Aminu Alkali, Chairman of the NIF.
Alkali also called on the Senate to expedite action in finalising the Electoral Act amendment as part of its constitutional contribution to advancing democracy.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that on Dec.14,2021, President Muhammadu Buhari wrote to the Senate, seeking for the conformation of the nominees.
NAN also reports that the Electoral Act had been further amended to provide for alternative for the holding of primaries by political parties against the direct primary clause that had been contentious.
NIF, a political pressure group, stressed that the confirmation of commissioners was also more important as INEC and political parties were already gearing up for by-elections, some governorship elections as well as the February 2023 general election.
NAN reports that the nominees are May Agbamuche (Delta state) representing South-south; Mr Ukeagu Nnamdi (Abia state) representing South-east; rtd Maj.-Gen A. B Alkali, Adamawa, representing North-east and Rada Gumus (Bayelsa), also representing South-South.
Others are Mohammed Haruna (Niger state) representing North-central; Sam Olumekun (Ondo state) representing South-west and Mr. Olaniyi Ijalaye (Ondo State, South West) as Resident Electoral Commissioner.
The group appealed to the Senate to see the immediate approval of the nominees as a national duty that should be devoid of political intrigues and nuances.
NAN reports that the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), had also appealed to the National Assembly to confirm the appointees with the deserved urgency in view of the up-coming strategic elections.
IPAC was particularly excited over the nomination of Mr Kenneth Ukeagu, a staff of INEC with a wealth of experience, as National Commissioner.
The IPAC National Chairman, Mr Yabagi Sani, had observed that being a serving Director and with 35 years cognate experience, Ukeagu’s appointment will enhance smooth operations of the Commission.
Buttressing the import of the first-of-its-kind appointing an experienced INEC staff as a commissioner, the Chairman of the pressure group said the President Buhari ‘Hit the Bull’s eye’.
“Ukeagu’s appointment is unique being the first member of staff or an insider to be so appointed by any president; President Buhari needs to be commended for the innovation, sense of judgment, and the futuristic reforms in the commission.
“Aside being a round peg in a round hole, the appointment is an indication that hard work pays and it will usher in unfettered commitment that will boost the nascent democracy.
“This appointment is a further step taken to discourage corruption in electoral system as well as a step taken in the president’s usual manner of refining the system.’’
Also speaking with newsmen, Mr Hakim Afolabi of the Centre for Transparency and Accountability also commended the appointment of an insider.
“I appeal to the Senate to approve the nominees because of the immediate critical and substantial inputs they are to make into the electoral process.
“NASS should regard these appointments as dramatic injection of reforms and an encouragement that would give birth to a better tomorrow,” he said.
Also contributing, Mr Adebayo Owolabi, Chairman of the Nigeria Democratic Initiative advised that the senate should display the needed urgency as usual in approving the appointments in order to save time as well as prevent political meddling,’’ advised.
“We are aware that the senate if aware that all the nominees are capable and will add value to the electoral system. The honourable senators should do the needful to avoid unnecessary turmoil,’’ he said. (NAN)