Why will Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC Chairman, be reappointed as his tenure expires November? Why will his coterie of Commissioners on the INEC board be also reappointed after November expiring tenure? These posers have been engaging in the Nigerian political landscape. In some important respects, analysts delved into the archive to exhume the damming verdict of European Union Election Observation Mission to support their arguments. In the EU EOM’s final report on the 2019 general elections, the reputable global election monitoring body describes INEC as: “Systemic failings and low level of voter participation.” In addition, Dr lbrahim Yusuf who wrote from Minna , Niger State, takes exemption to the reappointment. Yusuf views Yakubu’s quest for reappointment as an insult on Nigeria’s democratic practice. In this piece, Yusuf queries Nigerians and international stakeholders for trusting INEC that has “exhibited such technical and operational incompetence.” Ibrahim Yusuf’s perspective is presented below, unedited
In a few weeks, the tenure of most of the National Commissioners that make up the INEC board including the Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu will come to an end.
The five Commissioners, beside Mahmood Yakubu are Prince Solomon Adedeji Soyebi , Professor Anthonia Okoosi Simbine, Amina Zakari, Mustapha Lecky and Alhaji Settima Arfo.
Most Nigerians will be glad to see them go because they will be leaving INEC worse than they met it.
When Professor Mahmood and his team of Commissioners came to office after the 2015 election, fewer people who contested elections petitioned the results of Elections, but today post election petitions are increasing again and public confidence at an all time low after the 2019 election and subsequent elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states. When they came in 2016, a voter was three times more likely to vote after proper verification and cast a ballot than today, because in 2015 the Smart Card Reader was used for verification of voters biometric with over 55% rate of success was recorded but today less than 19% of voters are verified using the Smart Card Reader biometric authentication before being allowed to vote, rendering all the cost and efforts incurred to obtain an electronic register of voters under Prof. Jega almost useless, imagine spending billions on a project and 5years later a manager you hired to improve it renders it more than 35% less effective, will you re-hire or fire such a Manager?
A reliable voters register is a core element in the delivery of credible elections, yet after 5years Prof Yakubu and colleagues managed to make the voters Register that Prof Jega and others left in their care less reliable.
Furthermore, the most important task of the Professor Mahmood tenure was the delivery of an acceptable General elections, to see how he fared with his colleagues, let us reference some independent observers.
For instance, the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Nigeria, in its final report on the 2019 general elections concluded that there is a need for serious electoral reforms due to the “systemic failings and low level of voter participation”. In addition, the Observer mission pointed out that, “considerable weaknesses remained. Operational deficiencies led to the postponement of the elections, there were insufficient checks and transparency in the results process, as well as a general lack of public communication and information.
The elections became increasingly marred by violence and intimidation, with the role of the security agencies becoming more contentious as the process progressed”. The EU EOM reported that “this damaged the integrity of the electoral process and may deter future participation”. If we are to take such independent assessment seriously, then certainly no one will take a government that re-appoints the Managers of such a fiasco seriously both in the national and global context.
Again, let us examine another independent but reliable assessment by YIAGA Africa. According to the independent Observer body that also scored INEC low, it assessed that;
“the elections were marred by various irregularities including delayed, ad-hoc officials recruitment and training; lack of effective planning, poor INEC constituted leadership; the president’s delay in appointing national commissioners; INEC’s overestimated own capabilities and underrated challenges; discrepancy between registered voters as announced before the election and during collation; deliberate flouting of party guidelines, constitutions, INEC guidelines on party primaries and Electoral Act by political parties”
Further, YIAGA Africa added that “On Election Results management, election results management remains the weakest link in Nigeria’s electoral process. This necessitated the introduction of the electronic transmission of results by INEC to reduce the incidence of results mutilation and falsification.Why? INEC has been piloting the system with the off-cycle elections to test its efficiency and reliability.
“For the presidential elections, YIAGA AFRICA WTV findings indicate that INEC Presiding Officers electronically transmitted the Presidential election results using the Smart Card Reader in 65% of polling units. Collation officers exercised excessive discretionary powers in cancelling results and declared winners where the total number of registered voters in cancelled polling units will affect the margin of lead between candidates in flagrant violation of Section 26 and 53 of the 2010 Electoral Act as amended.”
What is noteworthy of the YIAGA Africa report is its convincing report of transmission of voting results from the field electronically in 65% of cases. Whereas for reasons best known to them, Professor Mahmood Yakubu and and his Board members repudiated ever doing so.
Why should Nigerians and international stakeholders trust a board that has exhibited such technical and operational incompetence? Why should a board overburdened by public mistrust following many inconclusive elections and petitions on elections it conducted be reappointed? A government that values its credibility and integrity before Nigerians and the international community will avoid such monumental blunder twice.