2019: Ready To Roll – Yakubu, INEC Chairman

By Stephen Ubanna

Mahmood Yakubu, a professor and Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC,  has assured Nigerians that there is no going back on the rescheduled Presidential and National Assembly on Saturady, February 23, as well the governorship, States Assembly and AAbuja Area Council election on March 9, 2019.

Yakubu  disclosed that the major problems that had informed the postponement of the election by one week have been solved.  The INEC Chairman said on Wednesday , February 20, 2019, that the Commission was able to achieve all that following the postponement of the election, an indication that the electoral umpire was not ready to hold the general elections at the earlier period slated for it.

One of such problems was the configuration of the card reader. According to the INEC boss, who appeared very confident to hold the general elections this time around, confirmed that  the card readers  have been configured to the number of specific polling booths across the country by the Commission Information Technology personnel and not by any contractor as alleged. He said the card readers , which were introduced by former President Goodluck Jonathan in the Nigerian electoral system to facilitate the accreditation of electorate  using the Permanent Voters card, PVC, were configured in such a way to ”forestall any illegal use of the card readers by politicians and their agents, before the  appointed  for the elections.

he may have sent a signal to the All Progressive Congress, APC and the People Democratic Party, PDP, officials, who have prepared the ground to rig the elections that the card readers could not be compromised because as ”it would only open  for use  at 8 a.m on the election day but would automatically shut down  by 10 p.m .

The INEC boss maintained that politicians waiting  on the wings to rig the election would be disappointed as ”there was no way anybody   could compromise  integrity of the process simply by knowing  the voter identification  number , warning  those giving out money to collect  voter ‘s identification number  to manipulate  the election to watch it.  

The Political Science Professor,  insists that ”there was  no way  anyone  would use  the Voter Identification number  to either compromise the smart card reader  or compromise the electoral process now”.

This should gladden the heart of Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President and Presidential Candidate of the PDP, who fears that the security agencies : Nigeria Police Force, NPF, Military  , Department of State Services, DSS and Nigeria Immigration services, NIS, personnel, would work for President Muhammadu Buhari  who is seeking re-election on the platform of the APC, to rig the election. On its part, the APC, had accused the PDP of perfecting plans to rig the general elections.  The two parties could accuse  each other of ploting to rig the rig because of the enormous  resources available to them to do so. 

Recall that Donald  Duke, a former governor of Cross river state and now Presidential Candidate of the Social Democratic Party , SDP, had said that the APC  could do anything because of their unlimited access to funds.

Perhaps , to ensure that the Presidential and National Assembly go on as planned on Saturday, February 1 23, 19,  the INEC, boss had confirmed that adequate progress had been made in the area of logistics, a major reason that led  to the postponement of the general elections.

According to the Commission have completed the deployment of election materials to the states including the Abuja Area Councils An elated Yakubu  had confirmed that 10 states had already started movement of the materials to the local governments. They are  Adamawa, Anambra, Benue, Ekiti, Jigawa,  Katsina, Ogun, Osun. Oyo and Taraba states.  The movement of the election materials to the local government were said to have been conducted under tight security.

The question on the lips of most people was why the items have  not reached the other states , mostly in the north including Rivers, home state of Rotimi Amaechi ,  the minister of Transportation, who has threatened fire and brime stone , if the INEC, fail to endorse any APC  Candidate in Rivers state including Tony Cole, a Lagos business and the party acclaimed governorship Candidate for the election.

Mahmood Yakubu: INEC Boss

many believe that there was no basis for the election materials not to have reached the 36 states of the federation and the Abuja, Area Council, by now, because of the working agreement between the Commission and the Nigeria Air Force to airlift the materials o the nearest Airport in state which would be  handed over to the INEC and Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, that may be waiting for it under heavy security cover to avoid snatching of ballot boxes by desperate politicians on the road.

Despite the assurance by the INEC boss , that the general elections would go on ass rescheduled, Adams Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo state and national Chairman, APC , appears to have joined the PDP leadership of the PDP to call for his resignation . By allying with the leading opposition PDP, to call for the resignation of a key appointee of the Buhari Administration , Oshiomhole ,  has tactical declared his political stand.  he may have attracted much criticisms to himself from the party members for calling for Yakubu,  the INEC Chairman to resign.

Babatunde Fashola, minister of Works, Power and Housing,  who incidentally  is the Director of Planning, APC, Presidential Council, said ”those calling for the resignation  or sack of  the INEC Chairman are confused”, nothing  the ”electoral process was too far gone for a change in the leadership of the Commission”.

He querried Oshiomhole and others who are calling for the INEC boss resignation if that is what would take  the country to election?. He has a word of advice for Yakubu, to reclaim the confidence that Nigerians  expect in them and show that the Commission can be trusted by conducting a free, fair and credible election.

Already , the Army has taken proactive measure to stop electoral crimes such as snatching of ballot boxes and violence, during the election , the army has taking a proactive measure.  Tukur Buratai, a Lt.General  and Chief of Army Staff, CAS,  was to have issued an order  that here would be  ”no military escorts  for  retired military officers turned politicians  to properly carry out a stop and search” during the elections.  Recall that the Katsina state born Nigerian President  had ordered  security  agencies  to prepare to crack  down  on potential trouble  makers  during the rescheduled elections.  The security agencies, were said to have identified the flashpoint states: Rivers and the north eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. Burati  may have advised officers whose loyalty to the Nigeria state are in doubt because of their plan to connive with the politicians to resign  on or before Friday, February 22, 2019 to avoid running into trouble

Given that the goverment may not want anything to disrupt the elections, Abdulrahman Dambazau, a retired Lt. General and minister of Interior , at the instance of the President had declared Friday a work- free day. Dambazau, said  the banks and those offering  essential services were excluded from the declaration. The Nigerian Customs Service, NCS,  resident NIS, Border Patrol officers were said to have been given a standing order by their respective Heads  including the other security agencies at the lander to tighten up security at the Border.

Dom Asogwa, resident Comptroller, NIS, Seeme-Krake  land Border , has order his officers to be on the red alert to ensure that immigrants did not find their way into the country through unapproved routes during the elections. At the land Border, there is no rigid demarcation between the Nigeria and Republic of Benin Communities. Many of the Beninois, who had obtained the PVC, because of the identical cultures of the Communities, may want to enter into the Nigerian Community where they had registered to vote. The situation may be worse in Ogun and Adamawa states where there scores of illegal routes. Going by NIS records , there are 83 and 84 illegal routes that could be used by immigrants to enter Nigeria in Adamawa and Ogun states respectively.

A visitor who was at Seme- Krake land Border on Thursday, February 21, 2019,  said  the Beninois and NIgerian Immigration officials , were very busy processing  their travelling documents of Immigrants who may not want to  be trapped at the Border because of the government directive as was the case last week.

 Meanwhile Muhammed Uba Garba, Comptroller, NCS, Seme-Krake, Joint Border post, has given a standing order to Rashid Adahunsi, a Deputy Comptroller in-charge of the Command , Enforcement Unit, who in turn has read the riot act to the patrol teams to be on the alert to ensure that Vehicles and foreign par boiled rice and other Contraband items  were not smuggled into the country under any guise.  The government had banned the importation of vehicles and foreign through the land Border across the country on January 1, 2017.  Garba , has told those that cares to listen the ban on the ”ban on the importation of rice and foreign rice through the land Border was still in force.

Foreign rice and vehicle smugglers who may have perfected plans with their sponsors across the country to beat the security agencies, particular, the Customs patrol team to it during this public holiday would be disappointed  as Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and the Customs Comptroller General’s men are everywhere at the Border and the major high ways. Take for instance, at the Lagos- Seme -Krake Joint Border, smugglers who escape the resident Customs officers  may not be lucky with the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A or the Headquarters’ Strike Force team, Lagos Zonal office , under the Command of Salisu Shuaibu, an Assistant Comptroller. the team had stopped a major human trafficking  deal along the busy Lagos -Seme which escaped the eagle eye of the border Patrol and Resident NIS last which made headline news in Major Newspapers as the Nigerian Television Authority , NTA, allocated adequate air time to it to speak on the dangers of human trafficking and why security must be tightened up at the  nation’s land borders to avoid a repeat of such an ugly incident.

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