Cablegate: New Inec Commissioners

Published: Wed 27 Aug 2003 09:05 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. (U) Summary: President Obasanjo submitted names of ten new
national Commissioners for the Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC), along with the names of two currently
serving Commissioners and the national Chairman, to the
Senate for confirmation. After a walkout by opposition
senators, the ruling People's Democratic Party
(PDP)-dominated Senate approved them and nine were sworn in
August 26. End Summary
2. (U) On 12 August, President Obasanjo submitted names of
ten new national Commissioners for INEC to the Senate for
confirmation. Obasanjo recommended the retention of two
other Commissioners and the Chairman, whose terms have not
yet expired. Besides the Chairman, there are two
Commissioners for each of the six geo-political zones, each
serving five-year terms. During the debate over the
selections, senators belonging to the All Nigerian People's
Party (ANPP - the main opposition party) staged a walkout in
protest after Senate President Wabara (PDP) refused to allow
any delays in voting to accommodate debate, provide
additional documentation on the nominees, and provide an
opportunity to question the nominees individually. The PDP
then used its Senate majority to approve all of the
3. (SBU) Of the ten new Commissioners, four had previously
served as state-level Commissioners. Representing the
North-East will be Esther Salleh of Taraba State and Alhaji
Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State. Abubakar had previously
been the State Commissioner for Rivers State (in the
South-South), possibly the state with the most allegations of
malpractice during the April elections. Representing the
North-West will be Alhaji Bello Bala of Kebbi State and Dr.
Shehu Lawal of Kaduna State. Lawal had previously been the
State Commissioner for Edo State (in the South-East). The
Edo State capital, Benin City, saw the more violence than
most places in the run-up to the elections, and the few
observers who could gain access to the city had major
misgivings about the elections thereafter. Representing the
North-Central will be Setley Daze of Plateau State and
Engineer Anuka Uchola of Kogi State.
4. (U) Mrs. Olukemi Odebiyi of Ogun State and Chief Nimbe
Farukanmi of Ondo State will represent the South-West.
Odebiyi was formerly the State Commissioner for Lagos State.
Professor Maurice M. Iwu from Imo will join Engineer F.
Nwankwo of Ebonyi State in the South-East. Ekpeyong Nsa of
Cross River State, who had previously been the State
Commissioner for Yobe State (in the North-East), will join
Dr. Ishmael Igbani of Rivers State in the South-South.
5. (U) The two Commissioners retained, Nwankwo and Igbani,
both stepped into their positions during Obasanjo's first
civilian administration when their predecessors vacated
office (one died and the other retired). Nwankwo has one
year remaining in his term and Igbani almost the full five
years. INEC Chairman Abel Guobadia also has four years
remaining in his term, having assumed office last year when
the former Chairman retired.
6. (U) On August 26, the ANPP formally filed a motion at the
Federal High Court in Abuja to restrain Obasanjo from
swearing in the new commissioners. Obasanjo swore nine of
ten (Salleh was not present) in anyway on August 26, and the
court adjourned hearings on the matter until September 2.
7. (SBU) COMMENT: INEC Chairman and Commissioner appointments
are crucial issues in the conduct of elections in Nigeria at
both the national and local level. Stakeholders outside the
ruling party have constantly demanded an inclusive
Commission. Obasanjo's nominations - and the process by
which they were confirmed - were not inclusive, and bode ill
for election reform in general.
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