By Don Ubani
The nomination of Prof Attahiru Jega as Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, by former President Goodluck Jonathan at exactly 12.43pm on June 8, 2010 was seen as a step in the right direction. In the first instance, the nomination was a manifestation of the liberal administrative policy of the Jonathan's administration.
As Nigeria's President of Southern extraction, picking a core northern moslem as Chairman of INEC at a time when he had not exhausted his constitutional eligibility for another tenure, meant that Goodluck Jonathan was more concerned with the unity of Nigeria than his electoral chances. Jonathan was broadminded and exceptionally patriotic. Nigeria's history, no matter whatever surreptitious attempts some persons might be doing to tarnish his image, when critically written, would hold him in very high esteem. On emergence as Nigeria's President in 2015 and following the expiration of the tenure of Prof Jega, Muhammadu Buhari had the responsibility of nominating a new Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission. Unlike Goodluck Jonathan, true to his natural inclination to parochialism, sectionalism and religious discrimination, he sought for and nominated a core northern moslem for that very sensitive position. His choice was Prof Mahmood Yakubu from the North-East State of Bauchi. Since Yakubu became Chairman of INEC, he has conducted many elections, with each of them being suspiciously and inexplicably declared inconclusive. To add salt to injury, there are many vacant legislative positions that have been deliberately left unfilled for quite a long time running. This situation can only be explained by the fears of the INEC Chairman that should elections be conducted to fill such vacancies, the Party of the President, All Progressives Congress, would lose.
A typical example is in Rivers State. On very rare occasions when Yakubu's INEC manages to reconduct elections that had earlier been declared inconclusive, the results are manipulated to reflect victory for an unpopular APC Candidate. What happened recently in Imo-North(Okigwe) Senatorial rerun serves as a pointer to what I am talking about. Edo governorship election had been fixed for Saturday 10 September, 2016. But because it was clear that the Candidate of the Peoples' Democratic Party, PDP, Ize Inyamu, was set to emerge victorious at the polls, conflicting signals became the order of the moment.
Firstly, the Police and Department of State Service had to conspire against the election by injecting the fear that Book Haram, by intelligence, had planned to attack Edo State should the election take place on the 10th. What an unintelligent intelligence! If intelligence had revealed that a terrorist gang President Buhari had repeatedly boasted of having decimated had planned to attack on the day of election in a state very far from the North-East traditional enclave of Book Haram, even if it is only twenty-four hours to the election, does it mean that the plurality of security apparatus in Edo State alone, not talking of the whole of South-South, would be incapable of bringing the rag-tag hunger-devastated Book Haram to its knees in less than three hundred minutes. I cry for my beloved country! The alarmist propaganda would later take another dimension.
As if oblivious of the so-called reason the Police and DSS had earlier given, the APC concocted its own watery propaganda. This time, the election had to be deferred to Saturday, 24 September, 2016 because PDP had imported thousands of thugs into Edo State to help the Party win the election. They pointed accusing fingers at both Governors Ifeanyi Okowa and Nyesome Wike of Delta and Rivers, respectively. What an idiotic way of reasoning and propagating! Next Saturday is the election. Questions that may be asked include but not limited to,
(1) Is Mahmood Yakubu's INEC ready for the conduct of the election?,
(2) Is the Electoral Umpire sincere to handle the election?, (3) Will the election be different from others, so far, conducted by Yakubu by being conclusive? and(
4) Will Prof Mahmood Yakubu be willing to pronounce PDP Candidate winner if he wins the election? The Peoples' Democratic Party in Abia State, while urging PDP in Edo State to go all out convincing and persuading the electorate in Edo State to vote for her candidate also wishes to remind Prof Mahmood Yakubu that he has a date with history.
If he tows the line of honour and does what is just and right, history would place him in a very adorable space but where he allows his sense of honour to be beclouded by ethnic and religious bigotry, history would not fail to capture him as one that unwarrantedly and avoidably injured Nigeria's march towards consolidation of her democracy. Sir Don Ubani; KSC, JP Okwubunka of Asa State Publicity Secretary PDP, Abia State.