Francis Onyebuchi, Abuja
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, will begin his second five-year term today. He was reappointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, making him the first INEC Chairman to get a second tenure.
Yakubu will be handing over to himself at a ceremony to be conducted at the Conference Room of INEC in Maitama area of Abuja. Since the onset of the current presidential system of government in 1979, Nigeria has had nine chairmen of the electoral umpire under different names, including Federal Electoral Commission popularly known as FEDECO; National Electoral Commission; National Electoral Commission of Nigeria and the current Independent National Electoral Commission. The former chairmen of the electoral body were Michael Ani, Victor Ovie-Whiskey, Eme Awa, Humphrey Nwosu, Ephraim Akpata, Abel Guobadia, Maurice Iwu , Attahiru Jega, and Mahmood Yakubu.
Prof. Yakubu was first appointed in November 2015 by President Buhari with the first litmus test of conducting the Kogi and Bayelsa Governorship elections fresh from the general elections in 2015 which was adjudged to be one of the best in recent history.
The Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections were both declared as inconclusive initially and later on concluded after much controversies. The Commission under Yakubu went on to conduct another 9 off-circle elections within its five-year tenure. One important innovation that to can be credited to Prof. Mahmood Yakubu is the simultaneous accreditation and voting process which he introduced after the 2015 election. Initially, voters undergo accreditation after which they queue up again for the voting process. This practice sometimes, is strenuous and tends to discourage some already accredited voters from returning to cast their ballots.
With his reappointment, the INEC Chairman is surely aware that the stakes and expectations are very high as we approach the very important 2023 elections which will usher in a new president that will take over from President Muhammadu Buhari. However, the first major election he will be conducting in his 2nd term is the Anambra governorship election next year. Other by-elections into some vacant legislative seats will however come first. All eyes will be on Prof. Mahmood Yakubu to see how he improves our electoral process.