Prof. Jega said taking the President of the power to appoint INEC chairman will free the commission from partisanship.
Former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, has proposed that the power to appoint the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) be taken from the President.
This is as he noted the need for further amendments to remove ambiguities, clarify and strengthen some of its sections.
Jega, who made the remark at a two-day retreat organised for senators in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, said the President should divested of the power to appoint the chairman and National Commissioners of INEC to free the commission from partisanship.
According to him, Nigerian politicians get their partisan nominees appointed into the electoral commission and then, influence them to “compromise the integrity of elections”, adding that such nominees are not thoroughly screened and the ‘damaging effect’ of such a situation was seen in the 2023 elections.
“We have seen, in 2023 elections, the damaging effect of how people in the corridors of power get their client/partisan nominees appointed, without being thoroughly screened, and then they are influenced to compromise the integrity of elections,”
Jega also noted the need for the Senate to take seriously the confirmation of the electoral appointees as opposed to the usual “take a bow and go” manner of confirmation.
He continued, “On second thought, and for obvious reasons, I will recommend a joint committee of the National Assembly be given this responsibility, with criteria, for transparency, non-partisanship, and stakeholder engagement for the process. The applicants/nominees for these appointments should be subjected to public scrutiny with regard to knowledge, skills, good character, and non-partisanship.”
Further, the ex-INEC boss also recommended that the federal government make INEC completely independent in such a way that it has the power to hire and fire its officials independently without interference from the government.
“Professionalise lower level administrative appointments, including headship of state offices of INEC. In this regard, the appointment of Resident Electoral Commissioners should be divested from the president and given to the Commission at INEC, with powers to hire and fire.
“Once the appointment of Chairman and National Commissioners is sanitised, infused with public scrutiny for integrity and non-partisanship, then the Commission should be entrusted to hire and fire competent and skilled staff for administrative roles at both the headquarters and state offices of INEC. Thus, there will be clear lines of authority and directives, which would prevent the kind of unwholesome situations we have seen, in which RECs pander more to their partisan political bosses who nominated them into office, and ignore the lawful directives of the Commission,” Jega stated.