No, Buhari! We won’t let you destroy INEC (I) - By: . | Dailytrust

No, Buhari! We won’t let you destroy INEC (I)

I didn’t have to even search for long. The woman that Buhari is nominating from his team to be a commissioner at the supposedly venerable institution like the Independent National Elecroral Commission (INEC) is a perpetual troll, one of the most querrulous minds ever to cross Nigeria’s governance realm and indeed our cyberspace. It is a tragedy that we somehow still pay someone to totally traumatise the public and the person is about to be elevated because General Buhari has zero respect for posterity, for electoral integrity, for honour, and for decency where decency, decorum and  respect for corporate governance should be upheld. It is greatly unfortunate, that Nigeria’s current president, even though trained by this great nation at some of the best military schools around the world, has no inkling of what is called conflict of interest. I shall explain myself in a minute but let me regale you with a bit of contemporary history.

When Obasanjo came into government, the Chairman of INEC, which is a body established by the Abdulsalam government, was Chief Ehpraim Akpata. When Chief Akpata died in 2000, Obasanjo appointed Dr Abel Guobadia, a simple man I remember, who retired in 2005. Guobadia was succeeded by Professor Maurice Iwu, who held on until 2010 when President Jonathan appointed Professor Atahiru Jega. When President Buhari came into government in 2015, he removed Jega – under whose election he won the presidency, and appointed Professor Mahmood. President Buhari is the first president since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999 to have appointed someone who could be termed his kinsman to such a sensitive position where he ought to have shown restraint and some grace. In fact, Mahmood Yakubu, from Bauchi State, took over from Mrs Amina Zakari, who was the president’s first preference, but against whom the populace reacted for she is the president’s relative by marriage, and rumour had it that she partly grew up in Buhari’s house or vice versa.

When President Yar’Adua won the 2007 elections in 2007, he was contrite at the level of electoral brigandage that occurred and he openly voiced his unhappiness at riding in under such a fraudulent mandate – a rarity for a politician in our clime. Gentleman Umaru immediately set up a committee headed by a one-time Chief Justice of the Federation, Mohammad Uwais. The committee was made up of some of Nigeria’s most-eminent people of integrity, including Monsignor Matthew Hassan Kukah, Barrister Olisa Agbakoba, Professor Okon Uya, Sheikh Muhammad Lemu, Mrs Toyin Olakunri, Professor Mrs Grace Alele-Williams and of course, Professor Attahiru Jega, who would later become the INEC Chair. Chief among the recommendations of the committee was the need to DISLINK the leadership of INEC from any sitting presidency. It is a trite fact that the integrity of such an organisation is eroded once anyone can even allege that it has links to a sitting government in any manner. If the leadership is appointed by a sitting president, it goes without saying that there will be bias. To that extent the committee recommended that the INEC Chairman be chosen from a group of people of high integrity chosen by the judges sitting at the National Judicial Commission (NJC). Also recommended was a different system of funding for INEC, that made that institution evidently independent from the sitting government as against the current situation where the body goes bowl-in-hand to the National Assembly or the presidency.

Of course, Yar’Adua (who is known to be perhaps the only honest leader Nigeria has had since a long time), died in 2010 after a long battle with illness. President Jonathan trashed the report and Nigeria has continued in sin ever since. I believe Professor Mahmood is a fair-minded person, but the deregistration of parties which happened in February of this year will continue to be a stain on his record as I am sure that the body was influenced from outside; chiefly from hawks in the ruling party and a coterie of confused, selfish and myopic civil society organisations who express disdain towards the political efforts of those who try, but will never raise a finger on their own beyond collecting funds from everywhere – funds which they are fighting now not to account for under the revised CAMA. The political parties proscribed summarily, without communication or fair hearing and in military fashion, and without the opportunity to participate in all elections as provided by the constitution, were mostly well-supervised by INEC and were used to reporting, compliance and corporate governance practices. Today, Buhari is trying to totally destroy INEC by dragging that organisation right into the gutter.

Or how else will one describe the attempt to totally insult that institution, and the intelligence and feelings of Nigerians by appointing a foul-mouthed, foul-minded, uncontrollable and open-partisan aide of his as a commissioner into an institution that is struggling to retain whatever is left of its honour and integrity. In spite of INEC’s apparent goof with party deregistration and the totally unconstitutional move upon which it has been justly excoriated by Justice Dongban-Mensem, the President of the Appeal Court in her reading of an unanimous decision of the court on the 10th of August, 2020, INEC continues to disobey the law by refusing to reinstate indeed all 74 parties (not 22 if one reads the judgment well) in line with the spirit and letter of the judgment. Still I can see that the hands of Mahmood and his outgoing commissioners are tied. We have decent people at the leadership of INEC, like Professor Anthonia Okoosi-Simbine, Dr Muhammed Lekki, Professor Okey Ibeanu, AVM Muazu, Ms May Agbamuche-Mbu, Engr Ahmed Nahuche, and Prince Adedeji Soyebi among others. In the current team, the only person we have issues with, is Mr Festus Okoye, who is on record to have gone around decimating new parties, stating that Nigeria will reduce parties to 5 (who is he to dictate the number of parties as an umpire?), and calling the parties ‘mushroom’ and other names. He should have known better. The Doctrine of Legitimate Expectations presupposes that the young parties be given some time to find their feet before being deregistered. What has happened is simply bullying; a great injustice that must be redressed.

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