Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is currently under fire.
And the reason is the sudden and surprising postponement of the Saturday, February 16, 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections barely hours to take off time.
Although Yakubu has addressed Nigerians and the international community, giving their reasons, especially as regards logistics, most Nigerians are obviously not buying that. And below are what some of them are saying.
First to speak is Olawale Olaleye, a top journalist:
’INEC, Truly Nigerian!
‘On my way back home from London in January, I met a highly respectable Nigerian and senior colleague, who today runs one of the most successful online newspapers.
‘Quite expectedly, we did a quick run of the state of Nigeria.
‘A good listener with a handful of contacts in high places, he whispered to me: “Do you know INEC is going to postpone that election?”
‘Although not surprised, I gave a shocking look and retorted: “Yes, you are the third person saying this to me and like I’d said to the others, I refuse to believe. So, I’d keep my hope that no such thing would happen.”
‘He snickered at me and defiantly smiled away as he walked through the business class lounge with a parting shot: “See you on the other side.”
‘About 8.46pm last night, I updated my Facebook status thus: “Better perish the postponement idea. Ko le werk.”
‘Immediately, some of those who never knew me to be flippant sounded worried through their comments but expressed optimism it could never happen.
‘Others reached out to me, asking more questions for clarity and my answer was simple and short: “As you read this, they are toying with the idea.”
‘Finally, the heartbreaking news came and my fears and concern were confirmed by no other than INEC.
‘Now, here is a body that had four years to prepare for this exercise. Immediately an election is conducted, it goes without saying that another is expected in four years.
‘So, how come INEC suddenly realised – a few hours to the election – that there were logistics problems, such that necessitated the postponement of an exercise so critical that the entire world was on tenterhooks?
‘Sadly, this is what happens that people dismiss as ‘typical of Nigeria’. Everything unserious or impossible is always associated with Nigeria.
‘We come across as a people in need of recolonisation – a people unable to oversee their own affairs. Whatever the reasons are and no matter how genuine, the current INEC leadership has shown to lack the capacity to sit over that all-important body.
‘Need I remind us that this very INEC leadership invented inconclusive elections as if a part of its agenda upon assuming office? What this means, therefore, is that the Professor Mahmood Yakubu leadership has never hidden the fact that it was not fit for this job and as such a huge and constant embarrassment.
‘This is so painful that the world is naturally inclined to seeing Nigeria as a very unserious people – a large social unit undeserving of their precious time, hard earned resources and even concern.
‘In 2011, then INEC leadership postponed the presidential election on the day of the election, even after many had voted over reasons it could have envisaged if pro-active. Also, in 2015, there was a postponement from February to March, citing security concerns.
‘But, hey, because they are all essentially products of the Nigerian warped system, they simply could not do better than the system that produced them. Just how sad!
‘Well, this election has been postponed and there is nothing anyone could do. Unfortunately, the weight of the responsibility to deliver a free, fair and credible election has further piled up on INEC and has become inexcusable.
‘At this point, if the postponement was designed to further perfect some silly manipulation, the more impossible it has now become. The onus is on them to make sure that Nigeria crosses this phase nearly effortlessly.
‘More than anything else, INEC just reinforced some of the ugly perceptions that Nigeria has had to live with over the years and still struggling to shrug off.
‘A bunch of jokers!’
The second person is Toni Kan, a well known writer: ‘People travelled. Weddings were shifted. Schools are on break. Kids are home. Journalists are in from all over the world. And INEC postpones elections with hours to go. Na wa!’
Following closely is Muyiwa Akintunde, a marketing communications practitioner. According to him: ‘Not even a hint or a word of apology to the public from the electoral commission for disrupting the citizens’ schedule. Some firms closed early yesterday. Many travelled to where they registered. Social events postponed because of the election. And all we got is a statement that lacks feeling. Haba!’
Another marketing communications practitioner, Chris Adetayo summed it all up thus: ‘What’s happened today is why Corporates don’t joke with Performance Review and Management. At pre-determined intervals, formal performance assessment is carried out on an employee. This is to ensure that the employee is meeting expectations. It’s also a process that provides an employee with the opportunity to have a voice in how s/he is being managed, available tools etc etc. When an employee has a consistent record of poor performance despite Performance Improvement Plans, s/he is eased out.
‘Where am I going with this? Well, take a look at INEC and it’s Chairman. He’s been in office since 2015. In 4 years, he’s conducted elections in Kogi, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun (and Bayelsa, I think). Under him, “Inconclusive Election” became the norm. The elections (note the s) in Kogi virtually led to a constitutional crisis. Osun, small Osun, was inconclusive and reruns had to be held in some precincts in highly charged atmosphere. There are many examples over the past 4 years that shames this electoral body.
‘Now if we had taken the outcome of those elections on board, surely Prof Mahmoud Yakubu and his key lieutenants should have been relieved of their duties a while back. He, especially, has shown a level of incompetence that makes Maurice Iwu look like the paragon of excellence in election management. But we did nothing. Instead, we allowed him to remain in office in the vain hope that he will get better.
‘Today, with the eyes of the whole world on us, he messes us up in a way that rivals the shenanigans of the June 12 Annulment. Postponing the national elections on the very day of the elections is nothing short of sabotage. If he didn’t know a week ago that his organization is not ready for such a task, and with no known force majeur to hang on, then he really is hopelessly incompetent. Or a Saboteur.’