Professor Attahiru Muhammadu Jega is nominated for his professionalism, determination and integrity as chairman of Nigeria’s electoral commission, which, in 2015, ensured the conduct of Nigeria’s most credible election since the country’s return to civilian rule in 1999.
Professor Jega and the electoral commission helped to consolidate Nigeria’s democratic transition at a critical time for the country. This set a new standard for Nigeria as well as an important precedent for the many elections held elsewhere in Africa in 2015. Sixty-nine million Nigerians registered to vote in the 2015 elections and the electoral commission staffed and managed 155,000 polling booths, introducing biometric voter cards and card reader technology for the first time. Professor Jega’s leadership also helped to defuse the significant potential for electoral violence in Africa’s most populous nation, which could have had far-reaching ramifications for the region.
He faced intense criticism, pressure and interference from both ruling and opposition parties. Still, at a time when the country was deeply polarized along regional, religious and political lines, exacerbated by a faltering economy, allegations of widespread corruption and the Boko Haram crisis, Nigeria’s most competitive and unpredictable election was brought to a democratic conclusion under his leadership.