• Wednesday, February 21, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

The treachery of Mahmud Yakubu must never be forgotten or forgiven

The treachery of Mahmud Yakubu must never be forgotten or forgiven

Mahmud Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is not only a pernicious liar with a history of lies as INEC chairman, but he is also a real treacherous human being with weak moral fibre and has absolutely no respect for Nigerians. He must be denied the social respectability that he and all men in his position crave and demand.

After the shambolic 2019 elections where INEC declared Muhammadu Buhari winner, whistle-blowers from the commission let it be known that despite the refusal of the president to sign the electronic transmission of results into law, INEC still went ahead to collate results electronically during the election.

According to insider sources, the electronically transmitted results showed that the Atiku Abubakar of the PDP won the election with a whopping six million vote margin. But after the results were massaged, tipp-exxed, and tampered with manually, INEC declared Buhari the winner.

The existence of the server and the results formed the fulcrum of Atiku’s challenge of the election results at the tribunal. Atiku and the PDP wanted INEC to allow them access to the server and the results therein. But INEC denied they ever had such a server, even though they were given money to procure one for the election, or uploaded any results electronically. At the Tribunal, INEC’s counsel declared: “They are asking us to bring something we do not have.” But that was a blatant lie.

INEC had campaigned for pressured the Nigerian National Assembly to include electronic transmission of results in the electoral act, arguing that it was the only permanent solution to election rigging and that it had everything in place to make it work. While the National Assembly included it in the electoral act and reassured of its capacity to deliver, President Muhammadu Buhari flatly refused to sign it into law, fearing it will imperil his re-election chances on account of his deep unpopularity.

But the real shocker was the conduct of INEC. Despite repeated promises and reassurances, the results of the presidential elections were not uploaded in real time

So, INEC arguing that they do not have a server was a very blatant and wicked lie. But they had the backing of the law. Since the electoral act in use did not make provision for electronic transmission of results, and the matter was purely an internal decision of INEC, they could plausibly deny the existence of the server. With no access to INEC’s server, Atiku and the PDP could not prove a thing at the tribunal and Buhari’s fraudulent re-election stood.

To date, however, senior INEC insiders and personnel continue to tell academic researchers and anyone who cares to know that INEC did electronically transmit the 2019 elections and that Atiku Abubakar won that election squarely based on the results transmitted.

Immediately after, however, INEC resumed its campaign for the legalisation of electronic transmission of results. This time, they succeeded and with nothing to lose since he’s tenure barred, Buhari signed it into law. INEC even made the point to test-run the method in the Edo, Anambra, Ekiti, and Osun off-season gubernatorial elections.

With the successes of these elections, Mahmud Yakubu declared that “going forward, INEC would transmit election results electronically,” and it will permanently eliminate rigging in our elections. In the lead-up to the 2023 elections and with rumours circulating that INEC planned to rig the elections by abandoning the electronic transmission of results, the commission came out strongly to deny such rumours, putting out several press releases stating that:

“The Commission has repeatedly reassured Nigerians that it will transmit results directly from the polling units as we witnessed in Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections and 103 more constituencies where off-cycle Governorship/FCT Area elections and bye-elections were held since August 2020…”

At the Royal Institute of International Affairs, (Chatham House) London, where all major presidential candidates go to campaign and where important public policy decisions affecting Nigeria are unveiled and discussed, Yakubu continued to reassure everyone that the public would be able to view “polling-unit results as soon as they are finalized on Election Day.” He even went triumphal about the readiness of the commission: “We did so in Ekiti and Osun. It was fantastic and we’re going to do so nationwide. Increasingly, our people are becoming more excited about the deployment of this technology and we’re really happy.”

Then on Election Day, everything went wrong. INEC staff arrived late, not universally, but strategically at opposition strongholds and even so, with insufficient voting materials. Violence, voter intimidation, and destruction of ballot boxes were rampant being perpetrated sometimes, at the instance of security officials and mainly targeting opposition strongholds and supporters.

Read also: Aggrieved INEC ad-hoc staff protest over non-payment of allowances

But the real shocker was the conduct of INEC. Despite repeated promises and reassurances, the results of the presidential elections were not uploaded in real time. Curiously though, while polling unit officials could not upload the results of the presidential election, they could upload those of the Senatorial and House of Representatives elections. They claimed not to have the password.

It was only the next day that the results began to be slowly uploaded on the INEC portal. As many suspected, when compared with the results declared at polling units and which were captured by voters on their cell phones, they contained obvious alterations, with many of the original result sheets cancelled out with pen and rewritten over again.

Even with that, the numbers are still difficult to reconcile with many painstaking analyses of the sex-up results showing that the ruling party was declared winner even in states where the opposition won overwhelmingly. Like Chimamanda Adichie argued in her piece, “Nigeria’s Hallow Democracy”, “The election had been not only rigged, but done in such a shoddy, shabby manner that it insulted the intelligence of Nigerians.”

To be continued