Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Nigerian National Council of States

Okay, I am the first to admit that I'm about as far away from Nigeria as anyone could be. I've never visited, and I've not done any original research about government, governance, or politics there.

But I have been a casual, but serious student of Nigeria and Nigerian government and politics since 1963 when I met a college classmate, Joachim (Joe) Nwabuzor, from what was then called the Western Region of Nigeria.

Given all that, I only learned of the existence of the National Council of States yesterday when it was mentioned in news reports about the appointment of a new chairman for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the awarding to President Jonathan of the title "the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic."

The National Council of States appears to be an august body populated by an impressive group of powerful people. Until these recent news stories, it obviously operated quietly behind the scenes. Perhaps now we should add it to our organization charts for Nigerian governance.

I noted that the group is an advisory group and that the electoral commission appointments have to be approved by the Senate. In spite of that, the news reports from Next and Vanguard (Lagos) seem to assume that approval of the appointments are a done deal.

Jega is electoral commission boss
The National Council of States yesterday approved the nomination of Attahiru Jega as the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission by President Goodluck Jonathan.

The ratification came during the council’s first meeting under Mr Jonathan’s administration. An influential advisory body, members of the council include state governors, all former heads of state, former chief justices of the federation and the current one, the attorney-general and minister of justice, Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Yesterday’s meeting had, for the first time in a very long while, all former living Nigerian heads of state in attendance, including Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo, Shehu Shagari, Ibrahim Babangida, Ernest Shonekan, Abdulsalami Abubakar, and Muhammadu Buhari...

The full attendance by the former leaders signifies their confidence in the leadership of Mr. Jonathan, a presidency aide said…

Although the council is essentially an advisory body, it is usually consulted on significant national issues. Its meeting yesterday was essentially to endorse the appointment of a new chairman for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).


Attahiru Jega is New INEC Boss
AFTER six hours of deliberations on state matters, a well attended National Council of State, NCS, which had all former Nigerian leaders in attendance, yesterday, ratified the appointment of the outgoing Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, BUK, Professor Attahiru Jega, as the new Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC…

The NCS meeting ended with a motion moved by General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) requesting the Council, which is the highest decision making body in Nigeria, to confer on President Jonathan the highest honour of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR; a motion that was adopted immediately by members…

Every new President is normally awarded with the honour by the outgoing President, especially during the handing over ceremony, as in the case of Obasanjo and Yar'Adua, but nobody handed over to Jonathan, hence he had operated without the prestigious honour which is reserved for presidents...

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2 Comments:

At 9:59 AM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

The Council of State and its powers in Nigeria are described in the 1999 constitution. It is mentioned in Part IV, Third Schedule, Part I, B - Council of State, which is essentially an appendix to the highest law.

 
At 6:44 AM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

Solomonsydelle offers a realistic assessment of the new head of Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission in his blog, Nigerian Curiosity.

"The nomination of Attahiru Jega as the new Chairman of Nigeria's election-governing body is welcome news for a country on the verge of it's most important election season ever. Jega's reputation as an uncompromising and courageous individual are characteristics that will serve him and INEC well given the country's history of contentious and fraudulent elections. Unfortunately, the following factors cannot be ignored: the legislature's failure to produce a modified Electoral Act, the rejection of sound recommendations from the Uwais-led Electoral Reform Committee and the impending time constraint INEC faces…"

 

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