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Federal Lawmakers Split On Sectional Lines Over INEC Chairmanship

Source: EBUBECHI EMMANUEL - thewillnigeria.com
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ABUJA, May 28, (THEWILL) - Politicians from the south are now in disagreement with their counterparts from the north over speculated moves by President Goodluck Jonathan to appoint former Chief Justice of the Federation, retired Justice Alfa Belgore to replace Professor Maurice Iwu as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Already federal lawmakers from the south have started mobilizing against the said move insisting that somebody from the north should not be used to replace Iwu who is from Imo State, South Eastern Nigeria.

Belgore is from Kwara State in the North Central geo-political zone.

A Senator from the South East who spoke on conditions of anonymity said appointing Belgore will amount to injustice since, according to him, “it is becoming increasingly apparent that no South Easterner will contest the 2011 Presidential election.

He said it will be politically expedient if Jonathan appoints any credible person from the South East insisting that there are retired top judicial officers from that part of the country.

THEWILL learnt that the lawmakers from the South East have already started consulting with others from the South West and the South South zones for support ahead of the presentation of the nominee for the position to the Senate anytime next week.

It was however gathered that lawmakers from the north are not resting on their oars on the issue as they are said to have started closing ranks to ensure that any credible candidate sent by Jonathan passes.

Commenting on the appointment of INEC Chairman, Senator Ibrahim Ida (PDP Katsina) said the appointment should not be based on zoning but credibility. He said the position is a very important one and should not be subjected to political considerations but on merit.

Ida who preferred that a retired top judicial officer should be selected for the position, urged Jonathan to use his discretion to appoint a credible Nigerian who has been tried and tested and found to have the ability to withstand pressure from politicians.

Reports have it Friday that Belgore was contacted by the Presidency for the INEC Chairmanship. According to the report, Belgore has not given a definite answer on the issue.