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Buhari Appoints Acting Chairperson for Nigerian Electoral Commission

FILE - Nigeria's ex-electoral chief and academic Attahiru Jega attends a meeting with staff from the Independent National Electoral Commission in Abuja, March 17, 2011.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Amina Bala Zakari as the acting chairperson of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Zakari takes over from Professor Attahiru Jega, the former chairman of the electoral body whose term expired on Tuesday after serving a full five-year term. The tenures of six other INEC commissioners expired as well.

Nigeria’s 1999 constitution empowers the president to appoint the head of INEC and other members of the board, who are tasked with organizing elections in the country.

Under Jega, INEC administered this year's elections that put Buhari in power. The polls were deemed by both local and international observers to be transparent and credible.

With her appointment as acting chair, Zakari is expected to take charge of the day-to-day administrative activities of the electoral body until the president chooses a new person to lead INEC.

Zakari was already an INEC commissioner; her five-year term on the board was scheduled to expire at the end of July before her new appointment.

Nick Dazang, INEC's deputy director for public affairs, says Zakari took over in a brief ceremony Wednesday morning.

“With the new appointment, what that means is that she can only vacate that office or be reappointed," he said. "But whatever happens, her letter says she is to serve as acting chairperson pending the appointment of a substantive chairman and that is the prerogative of the president, and he will do it in his own good time.”

Dazang says INEC plans to soon begin implementing measures in preparation to future polls.

“The commission is calm. And as you know there are other elections we will conduct even before 2019 [the next general election]. So, the day-to-day affairs of the commission will be done by the acting chairman in collaboration with other commissioners whose tenures have not expired,” he said.

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