The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the body responsible for conducting free and fair elections in Nigeria. This body has undergone various name changes overtime since 1960 independence. INEC was established officially in 1998 by the Abdulsalami Abubakar military administration and has since then undergone various changes in its leadership. The INEC chairman is the head of the commission and oversees the entire electoral process, from the registration of voters to the declaration of election results. This article provides a list of INEC chairmen in Nigeria from 1998 till the present chairman, their tenure, and achievements.
Since the inception of the Fourth Republic in Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has played a critical role in ensuring that the country’s electoral processes are free, fair, and transparent. The commission’s work has been largely influenced by these individuals who have served as its chairman since 1999. These individuals have worked tirelessly to ensure that Nigeria’s democracy remains vibrant and strong.
FULL LIST OF INEC CHAIRMEN IN NIGERIA FROM 1998 TILL DATE
The following is a list of INEC chairmen in Nigeria, their tenure, and achievements:
|S/N||Name of INEC Chairmen||Tenure|
|1||Ephraim Akpata||1999 – 2000|
|2||Dr. Abel Guobadia||2000 – 2005|
|3||Prof. Maurice Iwu||2005 – 2010|
|4||Prof. Attahiru Jega||2010 – 2015|
|5||Amina Zakari (Acting)||2015|
|6||Mahmood Yakubu||2015 – 2021|
|7||Prof. Mahmood Yakubu||2021 – present|
EPHRAIM AKPATA (1998 – 1999)
In the year of 1998, during the tenure of General Abdulsalam Abubakar, the National Electoral Commission (NECON) was dissolved and replaced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). This newly established commission was entrusted with the organization of the transitional elections that marked the advent of the Fourth Republic in Nigeria, held on the 29th of May, 1999. It was in this year that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo emerged victorious in the election under the political party, PDP.
DR. ABEL GUOBADIA (2000 – 2005)
Dr. Abel Guobadia succeeded Ephraim Akpata as the chairman of INEC in 2000. He was appointed by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration and served until 2005. During his tenure, the commission introduced electronic voting machines and established polling units in all wards in Nigeria. INEC also conducted the 2003 general elections, which were marred by allegations of fraud and rigging.
PROFESSOR MAURICE IWU (2005 – 2010)
Following the retirement of Dr. Abel Guobadia in June 2005, Professor Maurice Iwu succeeded him as the head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Iwu’s leadership has been a subject of controversy and remains so even till date. During his tenure, INEC conducted the 2007 general elections, which were also marred by allegations of fraud and rigging.
During his tenure, Iwu made a significant announcement that foreign monitors would not be permitted during the electoral process, but only foreign election observers. Despite the widespread criticism that followed his decision, Iwu went ahead with his plans.
Iwu oversaw the 2007 elections, which brought the Late Alhaji Shehu Musa YarÁdua into power. However, YarÁdua later admitted that the election was not free and fair, raising doubts about the credibility of the electoral process under Iwu’s leadership.
PROFESSOR ATTAHIRU JEGA (2010 – 2015)
Professor Attahiru Jega was appointed as the chairman of INEC in June 2010 by President Goodluck Jonathan. He served until 2015 when his tenure expired. During his tenure, INEC conducted the 2011 and 2015 general elections, which were widely hailed as free and fair.
Attahiru Jega succeeded Maurice Iwu as the chairman of the INEC in 2010. He is widely regarded as the most successful INEC chairman in Nigeria’s history. Jega introduced a number of innovations that improved the credibility of Nigeria’s electoral process. These innovations include the use of biometric voter registration, the use of smart card readers during elections, and the creation of a separate electoral offenses tribunal. Under Jega’s leadership, the INEC conducted the 2011 and 2015 general elections, which were largely regarded as free, fair, and credible.
AMINA ZAKARI (ACTING CHAIRMAN, 2015)
Following the completion of Attahiru Jega’s tenure, Amina Zakari was appointed as the acting chairman of the INEC in June 2015. She served in that capacity until the appointment of a new chairman in 2015. Zakari had previously served as the INEC commissioner in charge of health and welfare.
MAHMOOD YAKUBU (2015 – 2021)
Professor Mahmood Yakubu was appointed as the chairman of INEC in November 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari. He served until his tenure expired in November 2021. During his tenure, INEC conducted the 2019 general elections, which were also widely hailed as free and fair. Yakubu had previously served as the executive secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND)
PROFESSOR MAHMOOD YAKUBU (2021- PRESENT)
Professor Mahmood Yakubu was reappointed as the chairman of INEC by President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2021. He is currently serving his second term in office. His reappointment has been widely hailed as a positive development for Nigeria’s democracy.
Professor Mahmood Yakubu is the current chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Nigeria, and he is tasked with overseeing the conduct of the 2023 general elections across the country.
As the current INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu is expected to maintain the high standards of credibility and transparency in the electoral process that the commission has become known for. His leadership will play a vital role in ensuring a successful and peaceful election in 2023, which will be a critical milestone in the democratic journey of Nigeria.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is a critical institution in Nigeria’s democracy and its chairman plays a vital role in ensuring that elections are free and fair. The INEC has undergone several changes in its leadership and mode of operations since its establishment in 1998. This article has provided a list of INEC chairmen in Nigeria, their tenure, and achievements. While some of the chairmen faced challenges during their tenure, others have been widely praised for conducting credible elections. The current INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has been reappointed for a second term, and many Nigerians have expressed optimism that he will continue to improve the electoral process.