As calls to sack Mahmood Yakubu intensify

By Adeze Ojukwu

Recent calls to sack the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, underscore the necessity to review Nigeria’s fledgling democracy. Efforts must be made to halt the nation’s current political farce, by establishing true federalism, as the panacea for citizens’ campaign for justice, equity, credible leadership, democratic ideals and good governance in the country, writes Adeze Ojukwu, an independent journalist.

Calls to sack the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu have intensified in recent times, for motley reasons.

Much of the electorate seems dissatisfied with the agency, over the recent presidential polls.

The furore over accusations of complicity in irregularities, is stormy, necessitating urgent action, because in public estimation, he was unable to meet the threshold of his sacred duty.

Many of his critics dismissed the exercise, which gulped billions of taxpayers’ money, as “a ruse and the worst election in the country.”

They insist that no election has been so brazenly perverted and skewed to disenfranchise the voters.

For instance, many citizens are wondering how the Voter Accreditation System(BIVAS), worked successfully, in the National Assembly election, but malfunctioned abysmally, in the presidential poll.

Is it not a shame that till date, some results had not been uploaded into INEC’s Results Viewing INEC’s Results Viewing Portal (IReV) portal.

Some voters complained bitterly that they were denied the opportunity to fulfil their constitutional obligations, because INEC officials did not come or in some cases arrived very late.

Others were brutalized and chased away by political thugs, who carted away ballot boxes in some centers. Yet INEC announced, what some described as “concocted figures.”

The hasty and impetuous declaration of a winner, without proper investigation of vexatious issues cast a dark shadow on the process.

In saner climes, Mahmood would have quit his position, given the overwhelming evidence of gross violations, against him and the institution.

This outing, is derided by many, as both a national disgrace and an international embarrassment, because it fell short of the credibility threshold, according to over 70 CSOs.

Sadly Buhari, remained taciturn, as usual, until few days ago, when he hailed the exercise and urged aggrieved parties to go to court.

The judiciary is the indisputable and valid option, but most Nigerians have lost confidence in the courts, due to alleged involvement of some officials in bribery and flagrant abuse of judicial processes.

While All Progressive Congress(APC) and its supporters are jubilating and applauding Mahmood, despite glitches and hitches that accompanied the polls, some opposition parties and majority of the populace are enraged with him.

To the latter, he has “murdered sleep,” and deserves no sleep,” as declared, in the metaphorical lines of the hero in William Shakespeare’s play: “Macbeth.” “Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep.”

However his sack or resignation, may still not resolve all the distortions in IINEC and other government agencies, given the horrendous cracks in the country’s configuration.

But for how long will Nigeria and its democracy flounder in this humongous perfidy?

Its fast motion towards the brink, is an existential challenge that should agitate and occupy politicians. Sadly they seem unperturbed, but are more preoccupied with the current craze for juicy positions.

The looming self-implosion, seems inevitable, as the growing trepidation is seriously rattling the polity and may further undermine the nation’s feeble frame and future.

But should any discerning Nigerian be surprised at INEC and the entire exercise?

The answer is no. Most government functionaries and institutions, in many instances, display utter disdain for rule of law and the rights of citizens.

As a result, the economy and virtually all aspects of the public sector, are comatose, with high incidences of graft, inefficiency, nepotism, low productivity and mediocrity, particularly in this regime.

With little or no value placed on merit, education, health, technology and security, the nation has witnessed an unprecedented descent into lawlessness, poverty, underdevelopment and financial rascality of monumental dimensions.

All efforts by previous administrations to address these disparate troubles and tragic trajectory were severely hindered by foundational crevices.

Nigeria plays host to many nationalities, with distinctive social, political, religious and cultural ideologies. Consequently, the union is harangued by unending struggles, conflicts and primordial forces.

Indeed since 1914, when the various constituents were banded together, in an unholy matrimony, Nigeria has been wobbling, under the weight of its artificiality.

Its initial tripod arrangement was upturned and replaced with a quasi-federalism and feudalism, which have entrapped some sections of the country in perpetual servitude, while others, reign as “Lord of the manor” and its treasury.

This was worsened by the discovery of oil, in the South, which triggered a fierce battle of supremacy and control of resources. No stone has been left unturned in this long-standing debacle.

While the northern oligarchy always deploys disingenuous antics, to grab and sustain power, the South is bedevilled by persistent squabbles and competitiveness, which have continued to worsen the pauperization of its people and communities.

The north has more number of states and local councils, hence parades a larger percentage of judges, legislators and federal appointees.

South East has only five states, while others were allotted six states each, with North West parading seven. By its location and status, the Federal Capital Territory(FCT), also confers a huge economic advantage to the north, in allocation of federal projects and revenue.

Attempts to correct this debauched design, through restructuring, fiscal federalism and perhaps a constitutional review, were often shot down by beneficiaries of the vile system.

The South South, which parades huge oil, gas and aquatic reserves and contributes significantly to the nation’s export and foreign earnings, is in dire straits.

While the region’s huge natural endowments are heavily exploited and harnessed to boost Nigeria’s economy, its people wallow in despicable deprivation, bereft of basic amenities, due to horrendous environmental damage, occasioned by oil drilling and gas flaring.

With the massive pollution of the rivers, farms, crops, lands and atmosphere in the area, many indigenes face serious health and environmental risks, compounded by lack of modern health facilities and social safety nets.

Amidst these imbalances, the Buhari administration worked, desperately, to revive the quaint and controversial grazing route across the country. But the scheme failed woefully, despite efforts to sell the idea, under different names as Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) policy and National Livestock Transformation Plan(NLTP).

In 2017, the battleground was shifted from land to sea, as the president presented a proposal to the eighth National Assembly seeking to move the control of water resources from states to the federal government. It was tagged ‘A Bill for An Act to Establish a Regulatory Framework for the Water Resources Sector in Nigeria, Provide for the Equitable and Sustainable Redevelopment, Management, Use and Conservation of Nigeria’s Surface Water and Groundwater Resources and for Related Matter.’ The legislators rejected it.

The contentious proposal was re-introduced as “National Water Resources Bill, 2022,” but was also trashed by many prominent Nigerians, ethnic groups and the media over its subterranean undertones, security threats, social and economic concerns.

Most citizens are appalled by these phony initiatives that not only dehumanize the populace, but undermine the nation’s progress.

Clearly, corruption, financial recklessness and nepotism are recurrent features of the nation’s management profile, with senior officials in top government positions, allegedly involved in high profile cases of sleaze.

What nation develops with such despicable values?

Hence, while the widespread pressure to dismiss the INEC boss is reverberating, will Buhari be courageous enough to remove him?

By his antecedents, he rarely sacks incompetent officials for reasons, bordering on ethno-religious affiliations.

Nigeria is definitely on a self-destructive journey, that can only lead to doom and gloom.

The imperative to halt the current political farce, cannot be more urgent.

Fundamentally, this inevitable rescue mission, can only be achieved through the noble path of true federalism, as the panacea for citizens’ demand for justice, equity, credible leadership, democratic ideals and good governance in the country.

•Ojukwu is a journalist, author and Fellow of Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship, a US sponsored Fulbright programme. She is an advocate for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGS). Please kindly send feedback to [email protected]

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