PART 1: MAHMOOD YAKUBU’S POSTPONEMENT
On Sat 16th Feb 2019, INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu held a Press Conference by 2.00am to postpone the elections slated to hold on Sat 16th and Sat 23rd Feb to Sat 23rd Feb and Sat 2nd Mar 2019 respectively.
I, like lots of Nigerians was glued to my TV watching all the proceedings unfold and was extremely bewildered by the conference, so I decided to share my thoughts, thoughts based on pure observation and my version of logical thinking.
First, he gave us INEC’s list of achievements, instead of starting from a position of humility, remorse and a deep sense of understanding what this postponement means to us as Nigerians and says about Nigeria to the world. Meaning, he feels justified, and if you didn’t watch the press conference to the end, you’d be led to feel empathy for INEC and even agree with their decision.
But watch to the end and what will be blatantly obvious is an arrogance that says, “I’m powerful, I can do whatever I like, I’m untouchable!” This, my fellow Nigerians is our current reality.
Like Childish Gambino’s Song ‘This is America’, This is Nigeria! We live in a country that largely cares very little about us and where a high percentage of the people we have put in positions of Leadership and trust have no sense of right or wrong and are fuelled only by the Power position (and dare I say stolen money) brings. A country of every man/woman for themselves, do me I do you and man/woman must chop!
We foolishly trusted INEC to know and do better, and to lead us into our much anticipated and desired better future by facilitating properly organised fair and honest elections. But what we got in exchange was The Finger! A nonchalant, lackadaisical, uncaring, un-empathetic and frankly unpatriotic Finger!
Mahmood Yakubu’s reason for the postponement was:
- Logistical Challenges: bad weather stopped the delivery of materials to some locations
- Sabotage by Fire: fire incidents in 3 offices over the last 2wks. But he also said that destroyed items have all been replaced.
So due to these challenges and insistence that voting must start at the same time in all polling stations the decision was unilaterally taken by them to postpone the elections.
Listening to him raised more questions than it answered:
- Didn’t they know about the bad weather, or check the weather forecast, or do their due diligence?
- Having handled the fire issue, why is it still a viable reason for the postponement?
- Surely INEC must have competent staff whose jobs it is to ensure that nothing goes wrong and everything that needs to be done is being done to ensure things run relatively smoothly?
- Does INEC truly believe that Nigerians are stupid and don’t have a brain? Even the average uneducated Nigerian is relatively smart and in touch with reality (in some cases), Nigerians are fiercely patriotic and as such have been to some extent following the news on the elections and have a basic understanding of things like the weather!
- We achieved more than opposition in 4 years- APC
So why on God’s green earth does Mahmood Yakubu think it’s okay to sell us such a story and we will accept it, no questions asked? Let me tell you why: Because he is confident that our bark is worse than our bite! He knows that ultimately, we can’t do anything, because most of us don’t have the courage to challenge the leadership of this country and insist on things being done properly. The people in charge of putting their foot down, talk too much and do too little!
The average Nigerian is known for his talk and no action! If when the leadership of the country messes up other leaders publicly sanction them, call them to order, take them to court, put them in jail, keep them in jail, humiliate them etc, people like Mahmood Yakubu would think twice before feeding us these types of rubbish excuses and feeding it to us with an arrogance soaked in unjust power! But the lure of money and power is so intoxicating that instead of making the hard calls we look the other way.
Please note, I’m not criticising us (well not 100%), I’m just saying it how I see it. Think about it, someone struggling to keep their head above water every day is less likely to care about values, ethics or right and wrong. However, if we truly want change, we need to find intelligent, honest ways to damn the consequences and take a stand. And our leaders need to start looking at the bigger picture and not just the ones they choose to see through their rose-tinted glasses.
For every problem we talk about corruption being the root cause, forgetting that corruption isn’t a problem that can be solved overnight. It’s something that needs to be addressed from the roots. If the graduate can find good employment they are more likely to live a relatively honest life.
If the student knows there’s a job waiting for them after graduation they’re more likely to focus on getting good grades, so they can get the best jobs. If the market woman knows that the prices of goods will be stable she’s more likely to sell at an honest price to her customers…. the ifs are endless, but my point is corruption has to be tackled from all angles in order to effect change.
Now back to Mahmood. He has explained the reasons. It’s time for the outline of INEC’s next steps, which will be carried out through the course of the week leading up to the new election date of Sat 23rd Feb.
In theory, it’s a solid sounding plan, and in other circumstances can even be applauded. But as a Project Manager myself, the one thing that is glaringly obvious to me is that there is no room in this plan for unforeseen circumstances. So, it’s with a great sense of cynicism that I will watch the proceedings as they unfold because I am almost certain that things will go wrong.
But the big question is when (not if) they do, what next? If the weather is still bad, what next? If there is more sabotage, what flipping next? As this is crunch time I would have expected the plan to include utilising the resources of other national and international organisations who are experts in areas INEC is clearly lacking in or aren’t equipped for. But no, they want to do it all themselves.
This again goes to my earlier point of our leaders not looking at the bigger picture. But hey what do I know. I’m only a citizen watching from the side-lines.
PART 2: AUDIENCE RESPONSE TO MAHMOOD YAKUBU’S SPEECH
The first thing to note is all the well done, thank you for your honesty and forthrightness, congratulations etc. Are we for real? Have we really sunk so low that we have no perspective on good and bad behaviour? What are we being so nice for? What is really wrong with us? Dare I see it’s because we’re still too myopic: let’s play nice because we may need him tomorrow (personal gain/future favours). But therein lies one of our many problems.
Why can’t we call him out and tell him to his face that he and his commission have thoroughly messed up? All he did was to have his people write a well written detailed damage control deflective speech which focuses on their achievements instead of focusing squarely on why they postponed the elections. But there’s redemption: the serious questions start coming in.
Parties are asking very valid questions, including compensation for money lost due to no fault of theirs. Then the YDP Chairwoman makes that one pertinent statement: Mahmood Yakubu, you have not said sorry to Nigeria! GBAM! And as expected our wonderfully incompetent and inept INEC Chairman arrogantly brushes this question off.
Then comes APC Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, guns blazing and ready to give Mahmood Yakubu a piece of his mind, or shall I say APC’s mind. What this reminds me of are 2 male lions having a face-off, both have power so neither feels they need to submit to the other. On this occasion, Oshiomhole hits the nail on the head and goes for the jugular. And rightly so! And asks the most important question:
Why at 2.00am? Why not 48hrs before? From the reasons INEC chairman gave earlier the answer is simply this: we (being INEC Commission headed by Yakubu Mahmood) lack good planning, we’re incompetent, we have no regard for our fellow Nigerians, we don’t care about the welfare of the Youth Corpers and others who have put their lives at risk to be a part of the change we are so desperately looking for, we don’t care what the world thinks of Nigeria and finally, we are not fit for the office we hold!
It is clear that some of the presidential candidates have solid contributions and ideas for taking Nigeria forward. Like the ARP candidate who makes technological suggestions for how voting can be better done and asks some very sound food for thought questions around this, or the ADC candidate who makes recommendations are working with luxury bus companies to get discounts for people commuting from their homes to their states to vote.
From these questions what I see are people whom if they came together and agreed to look at the bigger picture can be the leaders for a better Nigeria, because they all seem to have sound ideas in various critical areas of industry such as technology, welfare, women empowerment etc.
Imagine if instead of fighting each other, they fought together and took up positions in different offices from the government to national bodies and other such organisations, with the sole objective of bringing their expertise and skill set to the table to effect change.
What is abundantly clear to me is that if all these Party heads came together and focused on the core vision which should be Working Towards a Better Nigeria, change will truly be a reality we can bank on.
As we go out to vote, let’s remain hopeful, let’s become the change we want to see and let’s try not to give up on our country. If we change, Nigeria will eventually change, regardless of who is leading us.
Feran Owootomo is an Events Producer and Project Manager with over 15yrs of experience who is passionate about a variety of things including Nigerian Politics and Governance and the Nigerian brand. Her objective is to help change the narrative by influencing how we see and do things that directly affect our future and how the world sees us.