By Suleiman Umaru
Barely two months after conducting the governorship elections of Edo, south-south,, and Ondo, south west geo-political zones states , which had produced Godwin Obaseki and Femi Oluwarotimi as governors of their respective states in an election that was adjudged within and outside the country, as Free and Fair, Mahmood Yakubu, a professor and Chairman , of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, says he is done with the Commission for now as he steps down.
His decision to step down frm the ealted office was said to have been informed by the fact that he was reappointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, to still oversee the Commission for another five years without the Confirmation of the Ahmad Lawan led Senate . The Senate Confirmation could have given him another opportunity of swearing the oath office to justify his Constitutional mandate.
He was not ready to toe the line of Ibrahim Magu, a Commissioner of Police and acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial rimes Commission, EFCC, and some other political appointees who had remained in office since 2015, despite not been confirmed by the 8th Senate led by Bukola Saraki, and who incidentally was a former governor of Kwara state and the current Senate .
As a Professor of Political Science who knows his onions and when to quit when the ovation is loudest, he had handed stepped down and handed over the leadership of of the Commission, to Ahmed Adamu Muazu, a retired Air Vice Marshall and a National Commissioner of the Commission, in-charge of Electoral Logistics but an acting Capacity, ‘’ pending when the Senate would Confirm his reappointment as forwarded to Lawan, the Senate Pesident by the Katsina state born Nigerian President on October 27, 2020 .
While handing over the mantle of Leadership of the Commission to Muazu, a National Commissioner, on Monday, November 9, 2020, Yakubu had told those that cares to listen that ‘’ it will be inappropriate for him to remain office beyond Monday , without Confirmation by the Lawan led Senate ,and swearing in to another oath of office as provided by the 1999 Constitution , as amended.
The INEC Chairman, who could not hide his feelings had said that as election managers, who enforces the Law, they must be seen as showing good example for others to follow by obeying the Law. ‘’We must demostrate strict respect for, and Compliance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and its subsidiary Laws’’, he had said.
He was said to have been encouraged to hand over to the retired Air Force Air Vice Marshall because he was selected by the other National Commissioners at the Conclusion of their meeting which was said to have been held behind closed door. Because his tenure had not expired.
Many had expected the five National Commissioners of the Electoral Umpire whose tenure had expired on Monday, 9, November, 2020, to take a cue from Yakubu, the INEC, boss, to step down as a mark of respect for the country’s Constitution. By stepping down without being forced out by the President shows that political appointees who are still hanging out in their office with the Senate Confirmation are Lawbreakers, which in turn also means that that the Nigerian President had no respect for the country’s Constitution for keeping such appointees with the Senate approval.
Insider information told Value News that The INEC helmsman may return back to the Commission if confirmed by the Senate alongside the five National Commissioners whose first five –year tenure which had started on November 9, 2015, had had expired. Note that Yakubu, had replaced Attahiru Jeja, a Professor, a former Chairman of the Commission, appointed by the then President Goodluck Jonathan.
Recall that the Nigerian President had appointed the INEC Chairman ,and five National Commissioners on November 9, 2015 while the next batch of the Commission National Commissioners were appointed between 2017 and July 21, 2018, were appointed for a five- year period , which may be renewed for another five years and final term at the discretion of the President and Commander –In-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Political Observers fear that the withdrawal of Yakubu, the INEC boss from the activities of the Commission by stepping down when his services are needed most in the country now is a major set -back to Elctoral Umpire. The former SUBSTATIVE INEC, Chairman, may have left in office lots of unfinished job for Muazu, and his Management Team.
Muazu and the National Commissioners were said to have held the first meeting with the Chairmen of the all the registered Political Parties over the 15 bye-elections postponed across the country by the then Chairman of the Commission on Tuesday, November 10, 2020. At the Monday meeting, after the brief had over Ceremony at the Commission Headquarters in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, the acting INEC, Chairman had given an insight into the planned meeting with the Political Party Chairmen the next day.
He had said that he meeting would afford the Political Party Chairmen, an opportunity ‘’to review the conduct of the past Edo and Ondo states governorship elections and make recommendations on how to improve on the quality of elections in the country’’.
Recall that the Commission had scheduled the Conduct of the bye-elections for October 31, 2020, which was said to have been postponed owing to the challenges in the country arising from the two weeks END SARS protest. The conduct of the 15 bye-elections across the country is a litmus test for the Muazu led INEC.
Political analysts who had followed the activities of the Commission over the last four years in the conduct of country’s past general elections believe that the INEC acting Chairman and his Team , may not have much difficulty in conducting the bye-elections because they had been working as a Team. That much was confirmed by Yakubu, while stepping down last Monday.