By Gabriel Ewepu, Abuja
Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Wednesday, expressed divergent views over President Muhammadu Buhari’s reappointment of Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof Mahmud Yakubu, on Tuesday.
The Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, Ene Obi, said, “Prof Mahmud is a good person and I wish he is given the free hand to do his job. He has tried despite all the challenges.
“The Electoral Amendment should be approved to give INEC more liberty to conduct elections free and fair.
“Political will is important, Prof. Mahmud needs the support. He has a lot of openness towards CSOs and we can mobilise more like minds to achieve free and fair elections. I congratulate Prof, on his re-election.”
The Executive Director, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, Rev David Ugolor, said, “The reappointment of Prof Mahmud by the President is a welcome development as it will create stability in the electoral process and also provide the opportunity for proper planning for 2023 elections.
“I also believe that INEC conducts in Edo and Ondo Governorship elections were commendable and the reappointment of Mahmud will help to reinforce the electoral reforms across the Country.
“By this action, President Buhari has also indicated in a clear message that he will not be interested in a third term and he will provide the enabling environment for INEC to discharge her constitutional responsibilities come 2023.
“I sincerely congratulate the President and also encourage all Political parties and stakeholders to support the new momentum.
“The challenge for free, fair and credible elections rest on INEC and all stakeholders. Civil society should not wait till 2023 to initiate electoral educational programmes. There is evidence to show that active citizens’ engagement will continue to improve electoral Governance. We should carry out a proper audit of the voters register so as to weed out fake names.”
Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, CDNDC, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said, “The reappointment of Prof Yakubu Mahmud for another 5 years term of office violates no law, but the overall parochialism of the Buhari regime and its clannish disposition narrowing major appointments to one ethno-religious and a section of the country, has made such important announcement less exciting.
“However, I want to believe that his reappointment is far better than another national agitation that would have followed the selection of another Fulani man to lead INEC because there is no way Buhari was going to appoint anyone outside his Fulani ethno-religious enclave.
“Also, the failure of the Buhari-led government to commit to Electoral Reforms has equally made the announcement of Pro. Yakubu less concerning for Nigerians, because the ultimate demand has remained the call for the signing of the Amended Electoral Bill passed by the 8th National Assembly or the quick passage of the one before the 9th Session.
“Prof. Mahmud Yakubu has led an improved INEC in the last two elections in Edo and Ondo States, and has committed the commission to use Electronic platforms for future elections starting in Anambra, I believe that his reappointment should help him to conduct better by-elections across the country and in the remaining off-season elections ahead of 2023.
“As CSOs, our demand will be to urge the reappointed INEC Chairman to join us in sustaining the pressure on the National Assembly, to pass the Electoral Bill this year and hopefully, he can use the day of his appearance for questioning at the National Assembly to make a definite call that we need the law passed this year so that we can have a better 2021 outlook for our elections.”
The Convener, Concerned Nigerians, CN, Deji Adeyanju, said, “I welcome the reappointment with hope, calling on him to do the right thing, leave a lasting legacy because now he is not looking for anything and has gotten tenure extension.
“So there is no reason of pleasing anybody, and I am appealing to him and his conscience to do what is right so that he can be remembered for something.
“We all remember Prof Atahiru Jega, for one or two things he did; he gave us the card reader. So Prof Yakubu should give us at least electronic voting and this should include E-Collation of results as we saw in Edo which made rigging almost impossible and also he should push for this reform should be amended in the new Electoral Reform.
“I am also asking that electronic should be allowed for Nigerians in Diaspora to vote electronically who have been disenfranchised for decades, and he will be celebrated if he can do these.”
The National Coordinator, Grassroots Empowerment and Justice, GEJ, Initiative, Ebriku John Friday, said, “The reappointment of the INEC chairman for a fresh term is a welcome development. Prof Yakubu Mahmud has learnt and I believe have been able to improve the electoral process so far.
“So I will say the reappointment is very appropriate. We can’t continue to change hands every now and then. Whoever you bring in there as INEC chairman will begin to learn the process all over again. But with Mahmud still in charge he can now settle down to carry out the reforms he has introduced so far to deliver credible elections.”\
“The Edo and Ondo recent elections are pointer to the fact that INEC have improved it is electoral processes. The two elections are pointers to credible polls in the years ahead.
“With the INEC chairman still in charge, the coming bye-elections and the 2023 general elections will be less contentious, with clear winners.
“For us, the INEC chairman should continue to give Nigerians reasons to believe his leadership by standing with the will of the people without any external influence. The times that we are in now needs transparency and fairness in the conduct of all elections.
“And with what we have seen, we believe in the leadership of Prof Mahmud that under him the electoral umpire will guarantee a dependable electoral process that Nigerians will trust it’s outcome.
“Our electoral process should be digitalised to the remotest part of the country with the best gadgets so that casted votes can be transmitted directly from the field. The government too should provide all the resources that will guarantee credible polls in the weeks and years ahead.”
President and Founder Peoples Movement for a New Nigeria, PMNN, Yahaya Ndu, said, “Honestly my opinion is that Mr President acted entirely within his right in reappointing the INEC Chairman but I would have expected Mr President to have also signed the amendment to the electoral act if he was interested in improving electoral integrity in the country. Be that as it may the era of electoral and governmental impunity is rapidly coming to an end as the youth of this country are waking up.
“At the rate we are going those who rig and manipulate themselves into power will soon begin to realize that they are only endangering their lives and those of their loved ones. The handwriting is clearly on the wall.”
The Executive Director, CDD, David Anyaele, said, “The reappointment of Prof. Yakubu Mahmud as INEC chairman is a welcome development.
“I am not surprised that President Buhari reappointed him as the Chairman of INEC. This is because it is not in the character of the Mr President to try a new hand. If you come with him, you must also expect to finish with him so far as you are in good health.
“Having said that, the reappointment of Prof. Yakubu as INEC chairman is his constitutional right. Legal frameworks on election management provides for a reappointment.
“The fact is that Prof. Yakubu has introduced reforms in the Election management. In particular, the INEC framework on access and participation of persons with disabilities in the electoral and political process, the deployment of technology in the administration of Election as seen in Edo and Ondo States Governorship Elections, are some of the innovations of Prof. Yakubu’s INEC that need to be strengthened and improve upon in this his second term.
“It is the expectation of stakeholders that he would improve in the upcoming elections since we could say that Edo and Ondo States Elections were better than Kogi and Bayelsa Elections.
“With the sustained application of technology in the administration of Election in Nigeria, it is possible to witness better Election management in the coming Elections.
“Dependability on only one man for our Electoral process to succeed is not possible. Election management in Nigeria is a combination of different actors and institutions which INEC does not have total control of.
“In particular is the issue of deployment of Election materials which requires partnering with transport operators. The security system, which INEC is not in control of, as such, depending on an individual for the success of an election in Nigeria, is not possible.
“In particular, the use of technology or electronic voting in Nigeria; the challenge of Covid-19 has shown that the future is technology. The early INEC works with NASS to strengthen our electoral framework to tolerate electronic voting, the better for all of us.
“The strengthening of INEC systems to ensure full implementation of its framework on persons with disabilities participate in the electoral system would go a long way towards improved access and participation of vulnerable groups in particular persons with disabilities in the electoral process.”