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The killer job at INEC (4)

By Eric Teniola
26 January 2023   |   3:07 am
As I stated earlier, any action that is not in accordance with the dictates of ones conscience inflicts a permanent psychological wound on the person.

Continued from yesterday
As I stated earlier, any action that is not in accordance with the dictates of ones conscience inflicts a permanent psychological wound on the person. Conscience and family honour were two steady companions that strengthened me throughout the difficult days of June 10 and 11, 12 and 23, 1993. Above all, whoever believes in God will be rightly guided in all his endeavours in good conscience done in the service of humanity”. No doubt, Professor Nwosu and his team did all they could to ensure a successful 1993 Presidential elections.

At the eleventh hour of announcing Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola GCFR (24 August 1937 – 7 July 1998) from Abeokuta in Ogun state as the winner of that election, the Armed Forces Ruling Council of General Ibrahim Babangida (81) GCFR, issued the following statement : “In view of the spirit of litigation pending in various courts, the federal government is compelled to take appropriate steps in order to rescue the judiciary from intra-voyaging. Those steps are taken so as to protect our legal system and the judiciary from being ridiculed and politicised, both naturally and internationally.

In an attempt to end this ridiculous charade which may culminate in judicial anarchy, the Federal Military Government has decided to stop forthwith, all court proceedings pending or to be instituted and appeals thereon in respect of any matter touching, relating or concerning the presidential election held on June 12, 1993.

The Transition to Civil Rule Political Programme (Amendment November 3), Decree Number 32 of 1992 and the Presidential Election (Basic Constitutional and Transitional Provisions) Decree Number 13 of 1993 are hereby repealed. All acts or omission done or purported to have been done by any person, authority etc, under the above named decrees are hereby declared invalid.

The National Electoral Commission is hereby suspended. All acts or omissions done or purported to have been done by itself, its officers or agents under the repealed Decree number 13, 1993 are hereby nullified”.
The rest is history.

From 1993 till 1999, we did not have any election. Certainly no one can blame Professor Nwosu for this.

Now turning to the February election, money cannot be a problem to Professor Yakubu and his team. The INEC is to spend three hundred and fifty-five billion naira. The National Assembly had earlier approved three hundred and five billion naira but the electoral body has budgeted another N50 billion for its annual budget in 2023, an increment of N10 billion compared to 2022 budget which was N40 billion as approved by the National Assembly.

According to INEC, the N2.6 billion would be used for the provision for elections, referenda and recalls expenses such as: Operation dept cost covering, printing of ballot papers, result sheets, printing of forms and Envelopes, arterials and supplies, logistics expenses, honorarium for officials, supervision, RAC preparation, security /intervention support etc “Election ICT system support, printing of voters’ register for off season and bye elections, F$A Election fund management logistic.” According to INEC, in the 2023 Budget of the agency, N50 million will be spent to buy firefighting equipment, Motor Vehicles – N150 million, N250 million to repeat offices and residential building.

Professor Yakubu has got a date for the Presidential election. He has got the personnel to conduct the election. He has got the money too. What else?
When he was appointed the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission on October 20, 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, two questions came to my mind. Why has a woman not being appointed to the position of the Chairman of INEC and why has someone from the Southwest not been appointed to that position?

I never knew much about the man except that he was a lecturer, guerrilla warfare expert, and Professor of Political History and International Studies at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna. Prior to his appointment as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood served as the executive secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, being appointed to office in 2007 by then-President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

During his tenure as secretary, a National Book Development Fund was established, supporting 102 journals of professional associations. Professor Yakubu Mahmood also served as Assistant Secretary of Finance and Administration at the 2014 National Conference. I am told he is a team player.

The other question that have been troubling me since, is that as human, can Professor Yakubu’s partisanship decide the outcome of the election or rather does the INEC Chairman has the power to short change voters in spite of assurances, pronouncements and declarations? No one can answer that question except Professor Yakubu and his team and they can only answer the question by their actions. The question becomes relevant because the Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin (1879–1953) said “I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this—who will count the votes, and how”.

The Foundations of Leninism (1924) also added that, “The State is an instrument in the hands of the ruling class, used to break the resistance of the adversaries of that class”.

The INEC job over all these years had become too impossible. Through that job you can be a hero or a villain, you can be popular or esoteric. Professor Nwosu conducted a free and fair election; the events that followed were not of his making. He did a good job. Till today he has not been compensated with a National award. Same with Chief Esua.

The Military took over on January 15, 1966 citing the irregularities of the 1964 and 1965 elections as an excuse. Chief Esua witnessed the civil war—a fallout of the military coup. He never witnessed democracy till he died in the ancient city of Calabar on December 3, 1973. He died in utter disappointment.

The killer job at INEC has all the elements of failures and successes, adoration and condemnation. I don’t know what will happen after the election. Life is necessarily ambiguous and just when we think we have a clue about what’s next, things shift again. The constant flux can be exhausting and exacerbating. Given how much we want to know and the extent to which we crave understanding, a rigged election will threaten the fragile stability we are experiencing in this artificial country. Professor Yakubu should know this. A rigged election may lead to imminent danger, for we are already sitting on a powder keg which may explode into violence and chaos.
Concluded
Teniola, a former director at the Presidency, wrote from Lagos.