Yakubu's new INEC song

By Sunny Igboanugo on 05/11/2015

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Few remembered him by his real name, Moshood Folorunso Abiola. He was simply known as Prof. Peller. However, this enigma born in 1941 at Iseyin, Oyo State, was so adept at his trade that he would easily get a stadium-capacity crowd into a frenzy by his simply mesmerising acts.

He was a friend to renowned princes, kings, presidents and the influential in the society across the world and was a known face at banquets in palaces and at official and private government functions, just in the same manner he conjured ecstatic vibrations among the ordinary folks. Prof. Peller, the magician was simply magical.

However, fate, that unseen, but powerful force known to control everything else, was to play the fastest trick on the man known for his tricks. He died on August 2, 1997, the same day death chose to take another legend, the Abamieda himself, the iconic Fela Anikulapo Kuti.  

That was how he left the stage, completely unsung. For very few people seemed to notice his exit despite the tragedy surrounding his end, having been shot in his Lagos residence by some gunmen.

Newspapers, struggling to find a space to give all the perspectives of the late Afrobeat king, could only manage to tuck his story in one corner, while radio and television stations, simply mentioned the incident in passing, as they were all consumed by the Fela fever. Such a sad story.

One couldn’t help but recall this event in the developments that played out a few days ago in Nigeria’s upper legislative chambers, the Senate and how they seem an apt replication of that episode, almost 14 years ago.

On Thursday, October 29, the Senate cleared Prof. Mahmood Yakubu as the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), alongside five other national commissioners of the electoral body. However, it was the same day that it also ended the Rotimi Amaechi saga, by confirming the nomination of the former Governor of Rivers State.

Perhaps, the jury is still out on which is more important – the issue of corruption, which is the crux of the drama in the Senate over Amaechi and that of the decades-old unsavoury electoral system, which has remained a sore point in the making of a great nation out of Nigeria.


Anybody would have thought that the two would not only have conjured equal importance, but be seen as parallel and complimentary. But it was clear from the media attention given to both incidents that the nation has failed to connect the deafening echo about corruption in the country, especially where politicians are involved with the absence of a sound and robust electoral system, with special focus on those who ought to make it possible, which was what the screening of the INEC wise men was all about.

How? One peep in the media the next morning after the exercise, gives all the answers. The very media that chose to give scant regard to the screening of the INEC commissioners, enthusiastically dedicated all the time and space in celebrating the Amaechi saga. While virtually all the newspapers splashed headlines on the walkout staged by members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and how their All Progressives Party (APC), went ahead with the confirmation of the former governor, not a single radio or television station appeared convinced enough to invite guests to discuss the issues raised during the screening and, or even the quality of the INEC personnel.    

Even the social media, equally caught in the frenzy of the lascivious Amaechi affair, turned their eyes away from what, in many ways, could and indeed have become a matter of life and death to the country and its people.

By so doing, they simply missed or glossed over the very critical content disclosures raised on the floor of the Senate chambers by the INEC men on how they intended to transform the agency into an institution of hope not only for the electoral emancipation of the country, but that which would create a pathway for the fast and steady movement to a dream Nigeria.

Else, the declaration by Mahmood Yakubu, would not only have been reverberating across the country today like the echo of a church bell, but creating deep impressions in the hearts of all lovers of democracy with its eternal import.

Hear the new INEC helmsman when asked about what he was bringing on the table: “I want to assure distinguished senators and Nigerians that no elections ever, under my watch, will be won and lost at INEC headquarters. If you want to win elections, go and canvass for the votes of the Nigerian people. We will protect the interest, integrity and sanctity of the decisions taken by the Nigerian people. Never again will elections be won and lost at INEC headquarters, at the headquarters of the state electoral commissions, and the EOs (Electoral Offices) at the local governments. This will be a thing of the past.”

To any critical mind, these are not only words on the marble by the deep meanings they conjure, but words that ought to be engraved in the minds of all Nigerians with which to confront the INEC boss, should he deviate from them, because they simply speak directly to the heart of one of the cardinal issues in the Nigerian troublesome system. For no matter what anybody might say, INEC, still remains a very big barrier to elections in Nigeria.

Yes, there are many people who would easily roll out the drums today to celebrate Mahmood’s predecessor, Prof. Attahiru Jega, for the handling of the 2015 general elections. But that can only serve the purpose of those professing the glass is half-full philosophy. A quick look at the judgements of the electoral tribunals today, certainly appears not to make Jega’s INEC smell roses. 

Incidentally, there is nothing in the stars that says that what the new INEC boss is saying is impossible within our shores. In the Ghanaian presidential election in 2008, what the ruling party needed to form a government, after winning the first ballot, was less than five per cent of the votes. It would have been a piece of cake to have just awarded it and ask the opposition to go to court. But the Electoral Commission of Ghana, under the watch of the inimitable Kwado Afari-Gyan, refused to grant it.

Interestingly, the ruling party lost at the second round of balloting, leaving the opposition to go ahead to form government. What followed that act of one man, who refused to budge under pressure, was that the image of Ghana towered in democratic circles, such that it did not only leave many other African countries behind, it practically rubbed shoulders with even the giants of democracy across the world.

What Mahmood is promising is that he would act in a similar manner, when so confronted. Of course, it could be argued that Jega achieved the same thing with the last election. But such a claim would fall flat in the face of critical examination. Even then, it was clear that Nigerians in their hysteria for change, simply glossed over a lot of things, as is becoming quite apparent now.

The fact therefore, that Mahmood, instead of living in denial, has decided to do some introspection, by focusing his attention on INEC first, means a major departure from the past. 

This indeed is where the hope comes. Besides, it is not difficult to place the new INEC helmsman at the commanding heights of the nation’s intelligentsia, as a first class brain, who comes with a rich pedigree of performance in other positions.

But, what becomes more enthralling is that he is also a professor of history. Therefore, he is not only supposed to be at home with historical antecedents, but is expected to be equally eager to create his own history. Here, perhaps, President Muhammadu Buhari might have hit the bull’s eyes with his change mantra. Obviously, the coming elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states, would be the first litmus test.

Surely, as the various political gladiators plan their own strategies, towards becoming the chief executives of their states, Mahmood, must also be planning his own victory – how to win the hearts of Nigeria. And with all at his disposal, it is a victory only he could lose. The world waits.


Igboanugo, a journalist writes from Abuja


Source Whirlwindnews.com

Posted on November, 5 2015

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