Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's nominee to head the electoral commission was approved on Tuesday by the Council of State, paving the way for the new elections chief to take office ahead of polls next year.
The Council, an advisory body comprising all former heads of state, sitting state governors and national assembly leaders, endorsed the choice of Attahiru Jega, the vice chancellor of Bayero University in the northern city of Kano.
"Council unanimously approved his appointment because he is a Nigerian that had distinguished himself," Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole told reporters after the Council meeting in the capital Abuja.
Jega's appointment must now be confirmed by parliament.
Jonathan has made organising free and fair elections in Africa's most populous nation his top priority since he was sworn in as head of state just over a month ago following the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua.
The 2007 election that brought Yar'Adua to power marked the first handover of power from one civilian president to another but was so marred by ballot-stuffing and voter intimidation that observers deemed it not to have been credible.
Jonathan ordered the outgoing chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Maurice Iwu, who oversaw the 2007 vote, to step down two months ago amid concern polls due by next April would not be credible under his leadership.
Parliament is considering electoral reforms meant to avoid a repeat of the chaos of 2007 but sceptics have said they will be toothless unless a credible, independent INEC chairman is named.
Jega, a professor of political science, was a long-standing critic of military rule, a one-time students' union leader, and head of the academic staff union of Nigerian universities in the 1990s.
The 2011 presidential election is shaping up to be the most fiercely contested since the end of military rule just over a decade ago. Jonathan himself has not ruled out standing.
ReutersLast Mod: 08 Haziran 2010, 22:39