By Suleiman Umaru
This is not the best of time for Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor and Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. This is because of the intense pressure from different quarters, both within and outside the country for him to resign his appointment over the alleged distortion and manipulation of the 2023 Presidential elections.
The INEC Chairman may have played into the hands of critics when he said that ‘’the glitches with the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System, BVAS’’, had stalled the uploading the February 25, 20223, Presidential and National Assembly elections result from the polling units to the Commission’s viewing portal, ReV.
Oluwale Osaze-Uzzi, a former INEC Director, Voters’ Education and Publicity may have shocked Nigerians when he said ‘’the trust which the electoral umpire has managed to build over several years cycle has dwindled under Prof. Yakubu’’. He had said that things went awry during the just concluded Presidential election, noting that ‘’the Confidence which the Commission had enjoyed over the years is at an all –time low, as the vast majority of Nigerians including some of the staff of the Commission are not satisfied with the way things had turned out to be’’.
Akin Osuntokun, Director General of Labour Party, LP, Presidential Campaign Council, PCC, may have fired the first shot when he disclosed that the Electoral umpire ReV had been ‘’perverted and thus messed up the entire exercise’’, an indications that Prof. Yakubu’ was not incompetent ’’ to conduct the presidential election using such an advanced technology.
The INEC Chairman who may have conducted the 2019, Presidential and National Assembly elections , which many believe was massively rigged in favour of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC ,Candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, who is completing his second term in office. Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President during Olusegun Obsanjo’s Administration, and the Opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Candidate, during the election had challenged the result in in Court but that was how far he could go.
Indeed, drawing from his past experience, Atiku, the PDP, Candidate, in the 2023, Presidential election, and who is never tired of heading to Court over election matters, and whom INEC, had said polled 6,984,520 votes to come to come second to the APC ,Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, popular Jagaban and former governor of Lagos state, who scored 8,794,726 votes and Peter Obi, LP, Flag bearer’s votes of 6,101,533 votes, has rejected the outcome of the election.
He may have rejected the 2023, Presidential election results on grounds that ‘’the Commission deliberately refused ‘’to transmit the polling units results to its ReV, as provided by the Electoral Act. It was not surprising why he has joined other Nigerians, ‘’to call for the resignation of the INEC boss’’.
Debo Ogunagba, PDP, National Publicity Secretary, may have spoken the mind of the aggrieved Atiku, Turakin Adamawa, and the Party Candidate for the 2023, election, when he asked Usman Alkali Baba, the Yobe state born Inspector General of Police, IGP, the Department of State Security, DSS, under the close watch of Yusuf Magaji Bichi and Abdulazi Bawa, led Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, ‘’to commence investigation of the INEC helmsman’’.
Indeed, Prof. Yakubu, may have known that conducting the March 11, 2023, governorship and state Assembly elections with the present condition of the BVAS, as used during the Presidential and National Assembly elections, would lead to the same problem of not being able to upload the results to its server may have informed why the Commission headed to the Election Petition Tribunal, to seek approval to reconfigure the electronic device.
The three –member panel of the Tribunal led by Justice Joseph Ikyegh, may have seen reason for the Commission to reconfigure the electronic device in order to hold a hitch-free governorship and state Assembly elections that it has granted the Commission’s request to reconfigure the BVAS, used for the February 25, 2023, and National Assembly elections .
The panel may have given the Commission the nod the go ahead and re-configure the BVAS machines, used during the last Presidential election on the grounds that ‘’the information on the system will be uploaded into the back-up end server which cannot be tampered with’’. With the Court approval, the electoral umpire officials were said to have met ‘’to assess its impact and preparations for the governorship and state Assembly elections on March 11, 2023. It was not surprising why the Commission took the bold initiative to reschedule the elections to Saturday, March 18, 2023.
The Commission had said that the decision become necessary ‘’to ensure that there is adequate time to back up the data stored on the over 176,000 BVAs machines used during the February 25, 2023, Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Festus Okoye, the INEC Commissioner, Information and Voters Education, may have sent a message to Obi of the LP, atiku, PDP, and Tinubu, the APC, President-elect, who was said to have also sought Court of Appeal approval to inspect all the sensitive materials and BVAS, used during the last Presidential an National Assembly elections that there was no cause for alarm. He had said that the re-configuring of its materials after every election was not new in Nigeria. He had alluded to the fact that it was done during the period when the agency was still using the Smart Card Readers.
Aware that the likes of Obi, the LP Candidate, who felt short changed during the last Presidential election and Atiku, his Counterpart in the PDP, are not comfortable with the re-configuring of the BVAS machines, used in the Presidential and National Assembly elections may have informed why he has reassured them that ‘’the Commission will continue to grant all litigants access to its sensitive electoral materials and the back- up ends that have been used to store the information on the BVAS.
Osuntokun, the LP, Director General had said that even if the INEC, goes ahead to tamper with the information contained in the BVAS, in the guise of re-configuring the system it would no change anything as’’ the polling agents have all the results and the party also have its own copy that is presently being compiled’’.
While the trio of Obi, Atiku and Tinubu, the President –elect, who is not happy at the turn of events that his election may be upturned by the Court, was said to have has taken to the option to retain the Presidential Seat as announced by INEC.
Nyensom Wike, governor of Rivers state and arrow head of the G5, in PDP, that was instrumental for the party losing the election due to his anti-party activities may have shown that he is no longer a loyal party member as he commended the APC,’’ for upholding rotational presidency and power shift to the south’’.
Describing himself as apostle of power shift, he had said that the support for a southern President hadnoting to do with party affiliations but the unity and oneness of the country. Ahead of the governorship and nationa Assembly lections on March 18, 2023, he has urged Nigerians ‘’ to defend their poling units against bullying and snatching of ballot boxes’’ but failed to give voters such advice in Rivers state where there was alleged massive rigging during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.