By Suleima Umaru
This is not the best of times for Mahmood Yakubu, a professor and Chairman, and other top officials, of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, over the rushed declaration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state, popular, Jagaban, and Candidate of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, as the President-elect, after the February 25, 2023, Presidential and National Assembly elections.
In declaring Tinubu, the APC, flag bearer as the President-elect, Prof. Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, had said that the APC Candidate, polled 8,794,726 votes , ahead of the 17 , other Political parties Candidates, who had slugged it out with him in the Competitive Presidential election .
His closest rivals, Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President, during Olusegun Obasanjo’s Administration and Presidential Candidate of the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra state and the Labour Party, LP, Candidate were said to have scored 6,984,520 and 6,101,533 votes, respectively.
Emeka Etiaba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and governorship Candidate of the PDP, in Enugu state, had faulted the Electoral umpire Chairman, for being in a haste ‘’to declare the winner of the just concluded Presidential elections result, noting that ‘’ section 72 of the Electoral Act gives the Commissions two weeks, after the conduct of the election to review the results before making any announcement.
The APC, flag bearer has been declared the President-elect by the country’s Chief Electoral Officer without scoring 25% of the votes of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, against the provisions of the Law. The Legal luminary was said to have made the INEC boss, understand that ‘’the Law is what it is and not what an individual says it is’’.
Putting on the garb of a Legal Practitioner, the Enugu based legal luminary and PDP, governorship Candidate in the upcoming Saturday, March 11, 2023, elections, had said that ‘’the 199 Constitutional provisions as amended which had made the FCT as one of the states of the Federation shall apply to it.
Aware that there were technical hitches encountered in the electronic transmission of results to the INEC ReV, from the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System, BVAS, that may have resulted in the massive rigging which were alleged to be in favour of the APC, Flag bearer as alleged by critics, may have encouraged the duo, Aitku and Obi to head to the Presidential Elections Court, PEC, to challenge the President-elect. The former Anambra state governor had said that it is the faulty foundation of the process that saw Tinubu, the APC, and Candidate as the winner of the February 25, 2023, general elections.
The duo had requested PEC, to compel INEC, to release the documents in its custody to them that was deployed for use during the Presidential and National Assembly elections for inspection. They have every reason to believe that the BVAS, which the theKatsina state born Nigerian President with the approval of Ahmad Lawn , led Senate, had released over N300 billion to the Commission to procure has been Compromised because its failure to electronically transmit election results from the polling units, to the Rev , as promised. The Court was said to have granted the duo their request to inspect all the INEC sensitive materials deployed for the Presidential and National elections on Friday, March 3, 2023.
The INEC Chief, may have known that that the bubble have burst that the Last Presidential and National Assembly elections were not free, fair and transparent and that the Court granting the aggrieved Two Opposition Parties Presidential flag bearers the go ahead to inspect the sensitive materials the Commission had deployed during the last elections and restraining it from tampering with it would drag its name to the mud that it has approached the Court to vary the orders.
The Commission was said to have told the Presidential Election Petition Court, that that ‘’it needed to reconfigure the BVAS, to be able to deploy it for the Saturday, March 11, governorship and state Assembly elections.
Many believe that there was no basis for the Commission to have approached the Court to seek approval ‘’to reconfigure the BVAS,that was just used in the last Presidential and National Assembly election if it was not compromised in order to cover its inadequacies.
They noted that the Commission has no reason to seek the Court approval to tamper with the BVAS, when the National Assembly at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari, had approved NN300 billion for it to procure the BVAS device that would be adequate for the Presidential and National as well as the governorship and state Assembly elections.
Until the Commission approached the Court, to be allowed to reconfigure the BVAS, deployed during the last election, the Nigerian President has confirmed that there were technical hitches encountered with the electronic transmission of the Presidential and National Assembly elections stating that there will be areas that needed work to bring further transparency and credibility to the voting procedure in the country’s future elections but that was how far he could go.
Meanwhile, the INEC Chairman, who could no longer bear the heat over the negligence of the Commission officials at the state level during the Presidential and National Assembly elections was said to have suspended Nura Ali, the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Sokoto state , with immediate , over an undisclosed reason.
Many believe that the decision by the INEC, Chieftain to have asked Ali, the Sokoto REC, to stay away from the Commission’s office till further notice may not be unconnected to the allegations of irregularities in the just conducted Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state. Fear appears to have gripped other state RECs, who were said to have been compromised during the elections that they may sacked.
Tinubu , the APC Candidate and President-elect, also appear to be sleeping with one eye open as the duo, Atiku, PDP, and Obi , of the LP, are determined to unseat him through the legal process. The former Lagos state governor may have known that it is not going to be a smooth sail for him that he has urged party members ‘’to support his 12-member, legal Team , of SANs, in its effort to defend his mandate.
While, Buahari, appears, set to organize the March 11, 2023, governorship and state Assembly elections, which m be the last as the country’s President, he may have also attended his last meetingorganised by the United Nations, UN, at Doha, Capital of Qatar,which is the Conference of Least Developed Countries, LDCs.
The Nigerian President may have used the opportunity provided at the Doha Conference to appeal to the developed and developing economies ‘’to grant duty-free market access for products from the world’s 46 least-developed nations to ensure their integration into regional and global value chains’’.
He had said at the UN, meeting at Doha, that ‘’the current structure of the global financial system which places an unsustainable external debt burden on the most vulnerable countries,has underpinned the need for reforms of the International Financial architecture which must prioritize the need of the LDCs. He further noted that’’ the debt burdens of the LDCs would make it extremely difficult for them to meet the 20230, agenda for the UN, seventeen , Sustainable Development Goals.
The Nigerian Leader who could not hide his feelings is optimistic that the Doha programme of Action will lead to the acceleration of exports from the LDCs by 2031, through the facilitation of access to foreign markets in line with World Trade Organisation, WTO, under the cclose watch of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former minister of Finance and Coordinator of the Economy , during Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration, Facilitation Agreement.