INEC Must Truly Be Seen as Independent’

Mahmood Yakubu
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

Presidential candidate of Nigeria for Democracy, Dr. Asukwo Archibong  tells Nseobong Okon-Ekong that postponement of the national elections is directly linked to wrong appointment made by President Muhammadu Buhari, to serve his sectional interest

Some Nigerians seem to have seen the postponement coming, with the ding-dong between the Presidency and the National Assembly, so why is there still an outrage?

The outrage is now muted. It has become self-pity and self-flagellation. Generally, Nigerians have become cynical about anything with our government. The failure of INEC is not a surprise. 
After all, NEPA failed, P&T failed, NIPOST failed, Nigeria Airways failed, our
transport system has failed, Nigeria Railways has failed, National Identity Card has failed, Operation Feed the Nation failed, our refineries have failed, our educational system has failed,
our healthcare sector has failed, so why wouldn’t the date for the National Elections fail? Well that too has failed.
The elections were surreptitiously postponed at the last minute. The initial outrage has turned into wringing of hands, self-pity and self-flagellation. Our elites and politicians have failed us in 
terms of pushing for the best for Nigeria.
The painful aspect of the failure of the elections to hold on the 16th of February, 2019 is the fact that the whole world had its eyes on Nigeria. The so called ‘giant of Africa.’
The ding-dong affair between the Presidency and the National Assembly is just a matter of separation of power and a struggle for relevance. The Presidency is using its executive powers as a weapon against the other two branches of government. It has also weaponized the administrative court under its branch of government, specifically the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The head of the National Assembly has been dragged to that court. The head of the Judiciary has been brought to that court. The ding-dong affair would have been an issue had the National Assembly withheld funds for INEC but it didn’t. It is the sectional appointment of the President that has caused the poor
performance of INEC.

Should the blame for postponement of the election be consigned solely to INEC, if not, which other parties should receive some knocks?

The sectional and nepotic conduct of the Presidency is what has caused the failure of INEC in administering the elections as at the time scheduled. The President appointed an incompetent
chairman, in the person of Mr. Mahmood Yakubu and also the next in command in the person of Amina Zakari, his alleged relative. Both have shown that they are incompetent by the failure of the elections to hold.
Mr. Yakubu was appointed on 21st of October, 2015. That is almost four years ago. A child that came into this world on that day can now sit up, crawl, walk, run, eat and speak. Mr. Yakubu can’t even sit up and have an election.
This has brought shame to Nigeria within the international community. It has given us a black eye. The news about Nigeria is not so positive right now. All because of the Presidency and INEC. Thus the blame goes solely to the President and INEC.

Elections have been postponed in Nigeria before, what can be done to end this trend?

To end this unpalatable trend we must appoint the right persons into the right positions. Round pegs in round holes. No more sectional, religious, or nepotic appointments. We must learn to
appreciate merit. The list of failures based on discriminatory appointments is already too long.
We must also learn to hold our elected officials to account. The fact that some engage in vote selling and buying indicates a failure on the part of the citizenry to put Nigeria first, rather than

What can INEC do to restore confidence in the process, particularly the outcome of the election?
The chairman must step down. Amina Zakari must step down. The next in command outside of Amina Zakari should take over. INEC must truly be seen as independent. Up till Thursday of last week, the chairman of INEC was still assuring Nigerians that INEC was ready for the elections.
Yet, he failed. I am grieved to realise that he will be paid his salary this month while millions of Nigerians would have lost money because they dared to participate in their civic duty of
attempting to vote. National Youth Service Corps members were mobilised, security agencies were mobilized, citizens traveled to distant places to vote, others came from outside the country to vote, our borders were closed, the economy ground to a halt, commercial hubs shut down. Only for INEC to say, ‘postponed.’