SAT, FEBRUARY 16 2019-theG&BJournal-The INEC chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu was contrite: postponing an election the whole world had gathered for in the cover of the night has proved to a very big mistake. ‘’This was a difficult decision for the Commission to take,’’ he said, ‘’but necessary for the successful delivery of the elections and the consolidation of our democracy.’’
The President Muhammadu Buhari showed his frustration like millions of Nigerians and international observers. ‘’I am disappointed that despite the long notice given and our preparations, both locally and internationally, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), postponed the presidential and national assembly election,’’ an exasperated Buhari said today.
INEC need to convince Nigerian voters, the disappointed but certainly pragmatic millions, that it will put its home in order now, that will help it retain its shredded integrity even after ditching the aspirations of Nigerians temporarily.
The shock that followed the postponement of the election to February 23 2019 -around the country and across generations- showed how deeply what INEC does anytime has embedded itself in lives. Its often unconvincing outlook before elections, constantly changing and shifting dates, keeps surprising and engaging millions of Nigerians.
The catalogue of INEC woes is somewhat akin to what obtains in clown circuits world over-laughable. The cost to the nation is much more unimaginable. If things were not so bad and the rest of the country crying about it, you might think INEC was having a laugh. One analysts reckoned it will cost the country 1$ billion daily, this is an estimate but huge enough to shake a country that is very slowly recovering from recession into stupor.
Mahmood Yakubu’s action prompts comparison with Maurice Iwu and Attahiru-both ex- INEC bosses. The three share one thing in common, DISASTER.
In 2007, Iwu conducted a scheduled general election. The voter register, the election results and the process that attained them were widely criticized as fraudulent. By April 27, 2010 he was sacked and his register jettisoned.
Eleven months later, and after over N92.6 billion, including a N450 million budget for INEC to cover donations and gifts to some agencies, the electoral body came up with a final voter register that reflects evidence of voter tampering.
Jega went mute when criticisms and questions began flying around on the number of voters published by the Commission. Questions were raised on how INEC could justify the proportion of registered voters to the population. In most cases then the figures are outrageous, unlikely and unjustifiable.
The changes or growth in number of registered voters also reflected an uneven pattern that raises questions about the demographic distribution of the exercise.
Both of them at some [point postponed an anticipated election.
There was plenty wrong then just as it is now and the scale of crisis INEC has become is dawning on the elites. All of the country’s political party leaders lined up to proclaim the gravity of the situation. For Kingsley Moghalu, the Presidential candidate of the Young Progressive Party, the cost, the inconvenience and the huge damage to the image of the country and the insensitivity of postponing the election just after midnight is baffling.
On the practical front and going by Nigeria’s electoral history, this issue will certainly encourage array of fresh legal complaints on the grounds that, at the very least, something suspicious went on with the voter lists.
‘’This is not a good time to be a politician in Nigerian,’’ one contestant told theG&Journal in Lagos. ‘’ Mahmood Yakubu caved to pressure mounted by those ‘’special interest group’’ that have held this country hostage since independence, nothing more.’’