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Elections: The Return Of Yakubu To INEC As Akuffo-Addo Wins Re-election Bid In Ghana’s 2020, Presidential Election

 By Elizabeth Chukwuma

When Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor and Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, stepped aside to pave way for Muazu Ahmed, a retired Air Vice Marshall and INEC, Commissioner in-charge of Logistics, and  the most senior of the seven  Electoral Commissioners who were believed to still have time to occupy the position  in acting capacity, he has his reason.

He may have stepped aside to force the Senate under the close watch of Ahmad Lawan,  to hasten efforts in confirming his reappointment.  Pesident Muhammadu Buhari, had on October 27, 2020, transmitted Yakubu,  a Professor of Political History and International Studies, letter of reappointment for another five years to the Senate  for confirmation. He has expected the Senate  to hasten efforts in the confirmation of his reappointment to ensure that  it did not go beyond November 9, 2020, that his first term in office elapsed. The inability of the Lawmakers to fast track his confirmation for a second term in office, ahead of the November 9, 2020,   may have forced him to step aside.

In doing so he noted that ‘’it would be inappropriate  for him to remain  in office beyond November 9, 2020, without confirmation by the Senate  and swearing in for another oath of office as provided by the Law’’. Indeed, his plan to force the Lawan led Senate  to confirm his reappointment without delay  appears to have worked out.  On December 1, 2020, the Senate confirmed his reappointment , as requested by the by the Katsina state born Nigerian President. The Confirmation of the INEC Chairman reappointment may have been made possible after Ibrahim Gaya, Chairman of the Committee on INEC, presented  a report for Consideration  of his Confirmation for  another five  years in office.

The Senate  Committee members  on INEC, were said to have told the other Lawmakers  that Yakubu, who is not affiliated to any Political Party and has not attended a political rally or campaign of  any of the Political parties  jostling  to hold power in the country  has met ‘’the requirements  of section  451 and section 41 i(ii) of the third schedule part I as contained in the 199 Constitution as amended and therefore, deserve  to be Confirmed for another  5-year  in office.

Even without deliberating  on the report of the Committee, the INEC  Chairman, who had  stepped aside, since November, 9, 2020,  was said to have been unanimously  approved  by the Senators  for another five-year term.

Until  he stepped aside last November, there some unresolved bye election issues like  holding the National Assembly and state Assemblies  bye-election in  some 11 states of the Federation that  were  on his table. The sbye-elections were spread in the six  geo-political regions of the country were to take place in the   Borno, Cross river, Bayelsa, Imo,  Kogi,  and Plateau. Others were Enugu, Bauchi, Katsina, Lagos and Zamfara.

 The initial date of October, 2020,  fixed for the bye-election may have been  cancelled due to the END SARS protest.  The return of normalcy in the country after the protest may have provided another opportunity for  the INEC Chairman and his Electoral Commissioners  to decide on a new date for the bye- elections but Muazu, the Air Vice Marshall,  who filled the gap after the temporary exit of the Professor from the Commission may have perfected the plan for the conduct of the  National and state Assemblies bye –elections in the states .  The bye-elections in the states  were said to have been held on Saturday, December 6, 2020 amidst tight security in the affected Constituencies.

The Lagos state East Senatorial district  bye-election  which was initially occupied by late Adebayo Osinawo, who had won the Senatorial election in the  2019 , general elections on the ticket of the All Progressive Congress, APC, was still retained by the ruling APC , in the state. Tokunbo  Abiru,  a one-time  Commissioner of Finance in the state and who incidentally was the Group Managing Director of Polaris Bank  Nigeria, until August 31, 2020, going by INEC, reports had won the Senatorial  slot for his party, APC. The Bakura  Constituency state Assembly bye-election in Zamfara state, north west Nigeria and home of Bandits, , was said to have been won by Ibrahim Tukur, of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the state.

Like other previous elections that  had been organised by the  Commission in the country, which  were marked by late judicial pronouncements which created confusion in mind of the electorates and violence in some states reared its ugly head in the supplementary election  in some of the states. Take for instance the late Judicial pronouncement in Imo state where  Frank Ibezim, the APC ,Candidate  for the statee North Senatorial district was sacked. Although the APC, won the bye- election, Ibezin, who had  laid claims to the party ticket in the Senatorial district went home unannounced by Hakeem Adikum, the Returning Officer.

These are some of the issues which Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, who had  been returned to office by the Senate for another  5-year term may have to tackle to  avoid a repeat in the  2023 general elections . The INEC Chairman  may have known that he cannot  afford to  make mistakes in the conduct of the  2023  general elections  that would usher in a new government in the country  that he had said to the hearing of Nigerians after been sworn in by Buhari  that preparations  for the 2023  elections  have started in earnest, noting that’’ the Commission needed certainty  and a new Legal framework which is Fundamental  for the formulation of its regulations  and guidelines  for the elections.

He has made it clear to those that cares to listen that without the  electoral  regulations and guidelines, ‘’the Commission may not  be able to conclude the  work on the  manual  for the training  of the  adhoc staff for the elections’’.This may have informed why he proceeded to the National Assembly after being sworn in for a second term in office by the Nigerian President  to push for the electoral reforms so that the Commission would start its work in earnest. Yakubu , who had resumed work on Wednesday, December 9, 2020,   had said that’’ the amendment of the  of electoral legal framework is very important’’’, stressing’’ that elections in Nigeria are getting and will continue to getter’’ which  must be sustained. The INC Chairman, had said that  the  electoral legal frameworks ‘’ will help the Commission  in confronting  the challenges ahead of it in 2023 election.  

 Lawan the Senate President may have gladdened the heart of the officials of the electoral umpire when he said that the National Assembly  ‘’will pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill by the first quarter of 2021. The Senate President who broke the cheery news  at the public hearing  on the repeal of the 2010, Electoral  Act  in Abuja recently   said the National Assembly  would do everything within its capacity to make that possible so that the amended  2020 Electoral Act  would be tested   in the early elections of 2023  to gauge its effectiveness by the Yakubu led INEC.

‘’A Free, Fair election and credible election in 2023 is doable’’, he had said. Already the Commission had started making  plans for the conduct of the 2023 general elections with a comprehensive review of the 2019 general elections  internally by way of self appraisal and externally  through wide-ranging consultations with stakeholders.  This may have  given Nigerians of Voting age the impression that the the 2023 elections will be one of the best that will be organised by the Commission that would  put the country on the path of the one of the democratically advanced nations that   could  compete with the North American country of the United States, US.

President Re-elected President Akuffo-Addo of Ghana,

 In a related development, in the  just concluded its  2020 Presidential election in Ghana, President Nana Akuffo-Addo of the centre-right  New Patriotic Party, NPP, has been  reelected for  another  four years in office. He had beaten his arch-rival in the country’s Presidential race, John Mahama of the National Democratic Congress, NDC, a  party leaning  more towards the left  and which was formed by Late Jerry Rawlings  and his political Associates.

Mahama, was the Cocoa-rich  Ghana’s former  President until 2016, before being  defeated by the opposition NPP, Candidate, Akuffo-Addo, who succeeded him. Like other African  Leaders who had lost elections, H had cried foul, Vvowing to head to Court to challenge the result.  The Party has said that ‘’overwhelming  evidence available   had made it impossible  for it to accept   this  spurious and hurried conclusion called election’’.  Mahama,  may have opened up when he said  that Akufo-Addo,   had engaged  the services of the military  to sway  the outcome  of the  election in his favour but  the government had dismissed the allegations as false.

Haruna Idrisu, a member of  the country’s  Parliament , on the ticket of the Oppostion NDC, may have spoken the mind of Mahama, the party Presidential  Candidate when he said that”it will take  decisive and concrete steps  , to overturn  this brazen  and shameless attack on the country’s democracy’’.

In spite of Mahama’s  anger over the  outcome of the 2020, Ghana Presidential election and plan to head to Court to challenge the result, President Akuffo-Addo, he has continued to receive Congratulatory messages from other African and  world Leaders which may dampen his enthusiam to still challenge the NPP victorious Candidate in Court but to accept defeat and Congratulate him and join in the development of the late Kwame Nkrumah home country.    

Stephen Ubanna

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