President Muhammadu Buhari recently reappointed Prof. Mahmood Yakubu as the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The President, who made the disclosure in a letter to the Senate, said: “In accordance with the provision of Section 154 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), I am pleased to present for confirmation by the Senate, the nomination of Professor Mahmood Yakubu for appointment as Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for a second and final term.” However, the reappointment is subject to a Senate confirmation.
Yakubu supervised the 2019 general election and off-cycle elections in states such as Kogi, Bayelsa, Edo and Ondo. He was first appointed the Chairman of INEC in November 2015, as successor to Prof. Attahiru Jega, who supervised the 2015 general election. By his reappointment, Yakubu becomes the first chairman of INEC to serve a second term in recent times. Others before him had only served a term of five years, each.
We welcome the reappointment and urge him to use his second term to improve the nation’s electoral process. Without doubt, his reappointment is an indication that the President has confidence in him. His second tour of duty will ensure continuity and engender credible electoral process in the country. Also, enormous responsibility has been placed on him to ensure a transparent poll in 2023. Good enough, the INEC boss will use the experience gathered so far to improve on future elections.
Many of the elections supervised so far by Yakubu were criticised by local and international observers for glaring inadequacies. However, the recent governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states under his watch were adjudged relatively free and fair. The poor outings by INEC under his watch had been blamed on inadequate time for preparation and logistic challenges. Therefore, the renewal of his tenure offers him enough time to prepare for the 2023 polls.
We believe that Yakubu’s second term will invariably give him a chance to fix INEC and leave a legacy of credible election which is key to an enduring democratic culture. The INEC Chairman is on the threshold of history to make the commission truly independent. His new term offers him an opportunity to improve our electoral fortunes.
This is the time to correct the errors of the commission’s past by initiating necessary actions that will make the 2023 election better than the previous ones. Yakubu’s term renewal gives him the opportunity to introduce electronic voting and other electoral reforms being proposed by INEC. It is good that INEC under Yakubu has been in the forefront of the campaign to introduce electronic voting in the country’s electoral system. Electronic voting (also known as e-voting) is voting that uses electronic means to either aid or take care of casting and counting votes. With e-voting in place, the electoral system will migrate from the present outdated voting system that depends so much on paper records and polling cards to the newer Electronic Voting System (EVS). E-voting ensures free and fair polls, guarantees speed in ballot counting, reduces cost in paying staff to count votes manually and provides improved access for disabled voters. It saves time and guarantees poll validity by voters being able to vote independently from their locations without interference or fear of intimidation.
Attaining the e-voting agenda and other reforms requires enabling legislations from the National Assembly. We urge the lawmakers to cooperate with INEC by enacting the necessary laws that will enable the commission transit from its present analogue stage and improve on the electoral process.
This is also the time to assert the independence of INEC and free it from undue influence by politicians and other extraneous considerations. This is an opportunity for INEC to give Nigerians free, fair and credible election, which President Buhari has always promised to bequeath at the end of his second and final term in 2023
Prior to his first term appointment in 2015, Yakubu served as the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TEDFUND). The INEC chair, who hails from Bauchi State, had his basic and secondary school education at Kobi Primary School and Government Teachers College, Toro, respectively. He proceeded to the University of Sokoto (now Usman Danfodiyo University), where he obtained a First Class degree in History.
At postgraduate level, he studied International Relations at Wolfson College, Cambridge, graduating with master’s degree in 1987. Yakubu got his doctorate degree in Nigeria History from Oxford University in 1991.
We congratulate Yakubu and wish him a successful tenure.