This Day (Lagos)

9 June 2010

Nigeria: Past INEC Chairmen

Lagos — Eyo Esua (1960-1966)

Eyo Ita Esua from Cross River State (South-south), led the first indigenous electoral body in the country. Esua's commission organized the first post-independence federal and regional elections of 1964 and 1965. But the December 1964 election was marred by controversy and confusion which led to a military coup in 1966. The commission was dissolved thereafter.

Michael Ani (1976-1979)

Chief Michael Ani also from Cross River State was appointed in 1976 by the General Olusegun Obasanjo regime as the chairman of the Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO). Ani's commission conducted the election which ushered in the Second Republic government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. on October 1, 1979. However, the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), led by late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, rejected the outcome of the election and challenged Shagari's election in court but lost.

Victor Ovie-Whiskey (1983)

Justice Victor Ovie-Whiskey from Delta State (South-south) was appointed by the Shehu Shagari administration in 1983 as chairman of FEDECO. He was seen as upright and non-partisan. At the time of his appointment, he was the Chief Judge of the old Bendel State. The general elections of 1983 which he conducted were however marred by widespread irregularities. Under him, electoral officials were accused of rigging in favour of the then ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN).

Eme Awa (1987-1989)

Prof. Eme Awa, from Abia State (South-east) served as Chairman between 1987 and 1989. He was a professor of Political Science at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He resigned his appointment around 1989 over alleged disagreement with former military President Ibrahim Babangida who appointed him.

Humphrey Nwosu (1989-1993)

Professor Humphrey Nwosu from Anambra State (South-east) took over from Awa, his former teacher, and served till 1993. He conducted the June 12 election seen as the freest and fairest election and presumed to have been won by the late Chief Moshood Abiola. It was Nwosu's commission that introduced the novel voting system of Option A4 and Open Ballot System.

Prof. Okon Uya (1993-1994)

A professor history, Uya was appointed by former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, to conduct a new presidential poll after the annulment of the June 12 election. The defunct NRC and SDP were asked to present new candidates for the new presidential poll. But the crisis that greeted the annulment did not allow Uya room to conduct the election, indeed any election at all before he was removed.

Sumner Dagogo-Jack (1994-1998)

The late General Sani Abacha appointed Chief Sumner Dagogo-Jack from Rivers State (South-south) as the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON). He served between 1994 and 1998 and conducted elections for the local government councils and the National Assembly. The elected officers were, however, never inaugurated before the sudden death of Abacha in 1998.

Ephraim Akpata (1998-1999)

Justice Ephraim Akpata from Edo State (South-south) was appointed by General Abdulsalami Abubakar's administration in 1998. He registered new political parties in 1999 and conducted the election that ushered in the Obasanjo's government in 1999.

Abel Guobadia (2000-2005)

After Akpata died in January 2000, President Obasanjo appointed Sir Abel Guobadia from Edo State (South-south) as the chairman of the commission. He conducted the election in which Obasanjo secured a second term in office in 2003. The election was also widely condemned by the opposition. In June 2005, Guobadia's tenure expired.

Maurice Iwu (2005-2010)

Professor Maurice Iwu from Imo State (South-east) who succeeded Guobadia in 2005 was perhaps the most controversial of all the nation's umpires. He conducted the 2007 general election characterised by wide spread irregularities.

Even the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua admitted that the election that made him president in 2007 was flawed. However, the Anambra governorship election last February redeemed the commission's image a little bit. The election was widely regarded as free and fair except for administrative hitches. But Iwu had already lost goodwill and his apppointment was not renewed.

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