By Ben Agande
AS Professor Attahiru Jega, the new Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, chairman and the new commissioners resume fully this morning, one of the issues awaiting the priority attention is the controversy over whether or not the appointment of the secretary of the commission is for a tenure of five years.
The issue assumed a fresh dimension as one of the Commissioners, Mr Philip Umeadi Jnr, said the tenure of the secretary was at the instance of the commission and not for a tenure of five years as contained in the revised condition of service of the commission.
Responding to a question from Vanguard on whether the tenure of the secretary of the commission, who is a staff of INEC is fixed, Umeadi, who was a member of the commission when the present secretary was appointed, said the appointment was not tenured.
I don’t know of any tenure â€”Umeadi
â€œThere is nothing like tenure of the secretary of the commission. His appointment is as spelt out in Section 9 of the Electoral Act and we appointed him based on that section, first in an acting capacity before confirming his appointment. I donâ€™t know of any tenure,â€ he said.
In the revised Condition of Service of the Commission 2007 which is in circulation amongst some staff of the commission, the tenure of the secretary of the commission, who is the administrative head, is pegged at five years.
This is, however, generating some controversy as some staff of the commission, especially those who believe that they stand a chance of being appointed secretary,Â are alleging that the condition of service was doctored to favour the incumbent secretary, Abdullahi Kaugama.
Condition of service doctored to favour Kaugama â€”Staff
These staff argue that the tenure of the secretary of the commission as contained in the revised Condition of Service 2007 did not reflect the “decision extract” which informed the decision to revised the old condition of service.
It is believed that with the assumption of duty by Jega as the new Chairman of the INEC, in deference to the principle of federal character, the secretary of the commission, Alhaji Abdullahi Kaugama, who is from Jigawa State, may have to be redeployed.
While Section 9 of the Electoral Act empowers INEC to appoint a secretary, it does not state the tenure of the secretary since the secretary would be picked from amongst the staff of the commission.
But in the new condition of service in circulation in the commission now which is dated October 2007, Section 1.05 states that â€œA Secretary appointed in accordance with Section 9 of the Electoral Act 2006 shall serve for five years.â€