March 16, 2023

INEC and the accountability question

INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu

THE regime of Professor Mahmood Yakubu as the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is chalking down a record as the most incompetent and wasteful of its type in our history.

It has been responsible for more failures, such as election postponement and inconclusiveness arising from internal maladministration of elections, than any other. What would have put a crown of gold on its head was the development of homegrown technology. These include the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS; the INEC Result Viewing, IreV, portal and other innovations which, Nigerians were promised, would virtually eliminate rigging and violence.

These tech devices and portals met the expectations of Nigerians when they were premiered in the Anambra Governorship election and further used in the Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections and several bye-elections. These, added to the upgrade of the Permanent Voter’s Cards, PVCs, convinced Nigerians that INEC would deliver a satisfactory 2023 general election.

They went to the polls to elect the next President, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives on Saturday, February 25, 2023. The failure of Yakubu’s INEC to obey the law and its own guidelines and deliver a tech-driven, credible and acceptable presidential election boiled down to crass incompetence, corruption or both.

Coming barely six days after Prof. Yakubu announced that the Commission was “ready”, it remains a mystery that INEC transmitted most of the parliamentary results as promised but resorted to the manual tabulation of the presidential figures. This gave room for the re-enactment of ballot snatching, violence, falsification of results, corruption of electoral officials by politicians and other forms of malfeasance.

Yakubu’s INEC has kept mum over the allegation that it posted out Chidi Nwafor, an engineer and the former head of its ICT Directorate and developer of its technologies to Enugu as an administrative officer. Is it true that Nwafor, who led the successful test-running of the technologies in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun, was transferred to make way for the incompetent and shady handling of the presidential election result transmission? If Nwafor had been allowed to do the job he had performed with unqualified success, would the “hitches” have taken place?

What about the uncountable cases of PVC dumping, especially in Lagos and the South-East, which Yakubu never bothered to address? And what about the child voters in the North who voted despite Yakubu’s assurances that their names had been cleaned from the register? What about Yakubu’s expensive frequent postponements of elections?

Prof Yakubu’s INEC spent over N300 billion to conduct possibly the worst election in Nigeria’s history. Most annoyingly, he got a second term!

We should be able to hold electoral chiefs criminally accountable for this level of ineptitude. Prof. Yakubu and his team must be sanctioned according to the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines.