By Tosin Omoniyi
President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Amina Bala Zakari as acting head of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
This follows the retirement of Attahiru Jega, who completed his five-year tenure on Tuesday.
The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Danladi Kifasi, said the appointment of Zakari was with immediate effect and would remain in force until a substantive chairman for the election body is announced.
The director of communications for the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Haruna Imrana, announced the appointment in a brief statement on Tuesday evening in an apparent attempt to dispel media reports that another INEC commissioner, Mohammed Wali, had been appointed to act as chairman.
Jega had handed over to Mohammad Wali, another national commissioner, whose tenure ends in August, 2015, in the brief handing over ceremony which took place at the commission’s headquarters.
Zakari was a national electoral commissioner at INEC before her appointment.
According to her bio-data on the commission’s web platform, Zakari is a pharmacist, who hails from Jigawa State. She attended Queens College Lagos and later graduated with a Bachelor of Science, B.sc degree in Pharmacy in 1980 from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
She was adjudged as the best graduating student in her set.
She worked as a pharmacist in various hospitals between 1983 and 1996 before she moved into the consultancy field to serve in various capacities as a consultant in health and social services.
She served in this capacity from 1997 till her appointment as national commissioner in INEC.
She was a former special assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo before she was deployed to the Federal Capital Territory Administration where she also served as Secretary of Health, Human Services and Social Development, and later that of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Zakari’s emergence signals the end of the tenure of Jega who was appointed in June 2010 by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Jega, who retired from office alongside six other national commissioners, headed the commission for five years.
The commissioners who ended their tenure alongside the former INEC boss include, M.K. Hammanga, from Adamawa State, Ishmael Jikiri Igbani, from Rivers State, Lai Olurode from Osun State, Gladys Nne Nwafor, from Abia State, Thelma Amata Iremiren, from Delta State and Nuru Yakubu, from Yobe State.
Jega successfully conducted two general elections while in office, the 2011 and 2015 polls.
The respected former INEC chairman who was born on 11 January 1957 in Jega, Kebbi State graduated in 1979 from the Ahmadu Bello University after which he worked as a teaching assistant at Bayero University before winning a fellowship at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois in the United States where he earned a PhD in Political Sciences.
He subsequently returned to the Political Science Department in Bayero University in 1984 to work as a lecturer.
Jega is equally credited for being a part of the Justice Mohammed Uwais Electoral Reform Committee, which submitted a far reaching report that recommended the establishment of commissions to deal with electoral offences, constituency delimitation and political parties registration and regulation.
The committee also recommended proportional representation at INEC and that the head of the electoral body should be appointed by the judiciary rather than the President.
The former vice chancellor of Bayero University has been lauded both nationally and globally for conducting largely peaceful and credible polls in 2015 that birthed the current administration.
Jega, immediately after the March 28 and April 11 polls said he would not be seeking for a fresh term in office adding that he would also reject such an offer.