By Faith Igbudu, Brenda Agba and Esther Akaa
Mixed reactions have continued to trail the nomination of the chairman of the independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu for a second term by President Muhammadu Buhari.
While some respondents see his reappointment as a good development and an endorsement of his performance in the first term, others say his nomination by the president for a second term was a reward for his alleged involvement in rigging the 2019 presidential election in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress candidate, Muhammadu Buhari.
It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari last week submitted the name of Professor Mahmood Yakubu to the senate for a confirmation for a second term of four years.
But reacting to the nomination, the Pro-Chancellor of the Benue State University, Professor Zack Gundu said the nomination was not based on merit but a manifestation of the continued nepotism of the Buhari administration.
“I am particularly sad about the reappointment because it wasn’t based on performance but on nepotism residing in the presidency. I say so because Professor Yakubu has not really contributed anything to the electoral process that he met on ground. The system has not improved. It is fast decaying.
“You saw that the last election was characterized by a lot of confusion because of the malfunction of the card reader. It became a thing of debate whether use the Card Reader or not. Our tribunals were full. There a lot of courts cases and now that he has been reappointed, it is going to be election money, it is cheating violence come 2023”, he said.
Professor Gundu added that “those Card Readers that ended up malfunctioning and building up unnecessary tension costs the country huge investment. Professor Yakubu wasted Nigeria’s time and money.
“Well we don’t know what happen on going but I am not surprised because anytime a southerner is removed a Hausa/Fulani is replaced on that post and when it is a northerner, the president finds it difficult to comprehend” the professor explained.
Another view from House of Representatives member representing Makurdi/Guma, Hon Bem Mzondu, said “Yakubu has found favour in the eyes of his employer Buhari as he is doing his bidding but if he allows a level playing ground and makes the commission independent as the name is, his name will go down memory lane”.
“It’s a last dance for him and he better dances well so that the ovation will be loud, look at Jega, he exited when the occasion was loudest and he got credit for what he has done but Mahmood came and took us backwards but I think he is trying to get his acts together and if he continues with that trend he will take our electoral process to a new level which is what we want and we are praying that he has the political will to take those decisions that will advance our political process”.
“The last two elections conducted in Edo and Ondo were adjudged to be some of the best elections he ever conducted” said Mzondu, “I wish he keeps up that trend.
“Similarly, Member, House of Assembly representing Ukum/Katsima-Ala, Hon Thomas Mlanga expressed his view on the issue.
According to him, “He should stay true to the job and build back the confidence Nigerians have lost in our electoral process, a system where people believe their vote does not count”.
In his reaction, a politician, Mr. Moses Bala John, stated; as a Nigerian, I feel that the whole electoral process is a work in progress. This is because the former INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega laid a foundation and Prof Mamhood Yakubu is building. So I think it is wise to allow him to perfect the structure in such a way that the future election can meet global standards.
“Prof Yakubu has added value to what he met on ground and he has done his best. So if the Presidency reappointed him, it is to maintain sustainability of a vision that was started by Prof. Jega and being sustained by him. So, all the critical stakeholders must give him the necessary cooperation for him to succeed because it is not just a one man show. It is going to be a collaborative effort of all those that are involved.
“In Nigeria nobody wants to accept defeat. If INEC conducts election, the party that wins will appreciate INEC, those that lost will blame INEC and in the next election if it turns the other way, it would be the same reaction. So for me, he has done his best but he needs our cooperation so that he can be able to improve, particularly on the idea of the electoral reforms because INEC and other relevant agencies have been on it. If they are able to achieve it, then it is going to go a long way in improving our electoral process. So he is on the right track and I believe that his reappointment is a welcome development”.
Speaking on the reappointment, a lecturer in the Department of History, Benue State University, Dr. Elijah Terdoo Ikpanor, described it as commendable.
According to him, “So far, there has been a great improvement in the electoral process under the watch of Prof. Yakubu especially in the declaration of election results and the reappointment will give him the opportunity to consolidate on his achievements”.
On whether the INEC boss has worked in favour of the government in power as alleged, Dr. Ikpanor said, “The INEC Chairman does not go to polling units to conduct elections, neither does he collate results.
The architecture of the umpire body is such that the Chairman only ensures the implementation of policies.
“Most times, key players in politics mastermind irregularities in the electoral process. So to me, such allegations are baseless”.
In the same vein, Dr. Daniel Chile of the Department of Mass Communication, Benue State University, also lauded Prof. Yakubu’s reappointment.
In his words, “The INEC Chairman by my assessment is very competent. He has done his best in past elections and there is hope that he will do even better.
“He has lofty ideas and if the electronic voting process he is currently working on is actualised, it will be a big plus to Nigeria’s democracy.
“Of course, there have been some irregularities in past elections but he can not do it all by himself, he has people working under him who may sometimes compromise.
“There is also great need for voter education as some of these irregularities arise as a result of voters’ actions or inactions “.
Also speaking, an Associate Professor, Kalu Okwara, of the Department of Science Education, College of Agricultural and Science Education, Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi (UAM), described the INEC chairman’s reappointment as a welcome development for the purpose of continuity which, according to him, is key to societal development.
Meanwhile, the Vice Chairman, Agatu Local Government Council, John Ikwulono, also had this to say, ” I do not have any issues with Prof. Yakubu’s reappointment but he needs to improve on areas where irregularities were experienced in past elections as they tend to portray him as working in favour of the government in power, which is not good for someone heading an umpire body like INEC”.
The council boss further expressed hope that with Prof. Yakubu’s experience, subsequent elections will be great improvement on past ones.
It will be recalled that Prof. Mahmood Yakubu took over from his predecessor, Prof. Attahiru Jega, in November 2015.