Professor Mahmud Yakubu that I know
When the news flittered into town that the council of state has just confirmed Professor Mahmud Yakubu as the new boss of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I quickly remembered my several encounters in the past with this extra-ordinary Nigerian in the ordinary course of business.
I thought that given the pedigree of the last occupant of that exalted substantive office in the person of Professor Attahiru Jega, Nigerians would naturally be interested in the antecedents of the newly appointed INEC boss. I have some testimonies to share in this respect.
Few years back I was assigned the prosecution of certain top executives of Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and upon reviewing the case file, I concluded that Professor Mahmud Yakubu then the Chief Executive of Education Trust Fund (ETF) was necessary to be called as a prosecution witness for the state.
I sought audience with him, announced my mission and requested that his expert evidence will be required to assist the Court in the proceedings. Professor Mahmud Yakubu willingly agreed, treated me with uncommon courtesies and offered all necessary assistance in facilitating the efficient execution of my prosecutorial assignment. I noticed that in the several pre-trial conferences held with him he came across to me as a thorough bred professional who was merely interested in the justice of the case and would not allow any other extraneous considerations influence the discharge of his public duties. He was cool, calm and collected in my several encounters with him. He also came across to me as very humble and extremely knowledgeable. Of course one would not expect anything less from someone who rose to become a Professor in his calling.
I recall leading the erudite Professor Mahmud Yakubu in evidence in-chief. I also recall that he willingly made himself available in the course of proceedings and before Retired Honourable Justice Adamu Bello of the Federal High Court Abuja, the erudite Professor Mahmud Yakubu stood in the witness box for hours narrating with precision the facts of the case as known to him supporting his evidence with necessary materials and sound delivery to the admiration of all. At the end of his evidence in-chief he took questions from the six defence counsel in the matter with candour and the highest degree of professionalism. As soon as the proceedings of the day was concluded Professor Mahmud Yakubu exchanged pleasantries with counsel and left hurriedly for his office to continue the discharge of his other responsibilities. The court found his evidence forthright, well-delivered and useful in arriving at the justice of the case at the end of the proceedings.
What are my impressions of the Professor?
I can readily say without any fear of contradiction that Professor Mahmud Yakubu is a gentle man and a thorough bred professional. I found him very accessible, humble and a serious minded professional who discharges his responsibilities without any fear or favour. He also appears to me to be well grounded. I also noticed that throughout his sojourn at the Educational Trust Fund (ETF) he was well regarded, appreciated and respected by the rank and file. He also has a very rich resume having served excellently in several administrative and leadership positions including mentorship of several Nigerians in the course of his educational career.
I have no doubt in my mind that the erudite Professor Mahmud Yakubu that I had the rare privilege of interacting with professionally and in the ordinary course of business in the past is a good choice as the INEC chair and certainly a worthy successor to Professor Attahiru Jega.
I believe that Professor Mahmud Yakubu will approach his new assignment with integrity, character, competence, capacity, hard-work and the highest degree of patriotism.
I urge Nigerians to cooperate with him in raising the high standards INEC has already attained to a new level.
And to Professor Mahmud Yakubu Nigerians expect nothing less than a free, fair, credible and peaceful conduct of our future elections in this country while he remains in the saddle as the INEC chair. If the Professor delivers on this mandate he would have written his name in letters of Gold.
*Shittu, a rights activist is of the faculty of law, University of Lagos.
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