INEC Chairman talks tough, makes bold pronouncements

By Post Nigeria October 29, 2015 14:54

INEC Chairman talks tough, makes bold pronouncements

The Senate on Thursday, October 29, confirmed Yakubu Mahmood as the New Chairman Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC alongside 5 others confirmed as Commissioners.

He maintained he would not be intimidated while carrying out his job in conducting free and fair elections, adding “It is too late for a person of my calibre to compromise.”

He insisted that he would not experiment with reforms at the Commission, but rather consolidate on the ones implemented by the immediate past INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega.

The Council of State had on October 21, 2015 approved the appointment of Yakubu, as the substantive Chairman of INEC.

Yakubu takes over from Amina Zakari who has been acting as Chairman of the electoral Commission since Jega’s exit.

Yakubu’s nomination as INEC chairman was confirmed by a two-third majority of the Senate on Thursday as stipulated by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

See: UPDATE: Buhari appoints Counter-terrorism expert as new INEC Chairman

Yakubu after responding to series of questions was asked to take a bow and his confirmation followed suit.

Fielding questions earlier from the Senators, he stated the need for Electronic voting while advising Nigerians not to be in a hurry to introduce it to the electoral process.

    “It is desirable and inevitable that one day we have to go into electronic voting. We have to be very careful as reflected in other countries, we need to think through it before we adopt it we cannot rush into it,” He stated.

He emphasized the importance of the card readers and expressed optimism that they would serve Nigerians better in 2019.

Speaking on the reforms in the electoral system, Yakubu appreciated the efforts of the immediate past INEC Chairman, Jega on his immense contributions to the commission.

“I have not come to experiment but to consolidate. I cannot be intimidated; I have accepted myself as a true Nigerian.”

He also promised to focus on the statutory roles of INEC to ensure that 12.3million PVCs that were not collected prior to the 2015 elections would be collected ahead of 2019.

Yakubu painstakingly stressed that lobbying to win elections at the INEC headquarters was a thing of the past. He also charged politicians to win the support of the people and not that of commission to enable them win elections.

Yakubu promised to firm up the electoral process and not to be intimidated into doing what is not proper.

    “The success of any election depends on the ability of the commission to organise and arrange properly in advance,” he said.

    “But in this country we have the culture of rush‎, as a result of this so many things that are supposed to be done much early are not done.

    “If six months is the time limit under the law at present, I definitely will look at the possibility of coming back to the national assembly for an appropriate amended of the electoral act to enable us to have longer period of time for preparation.

    “There must be no room for experimentation. As far as I am concerned something happened to this country in 2015, and we should consolidate on that.

    “We cannot experiment all the time because for the first time we have achieved tremendous democratic stability in this country. Democracy is not about here and now, it is about here and forever.”

The Commissioners also spoke on their expected roles when confirmed;

Soyebi Solomon had earlier emphasized the importance of Electronic voting, stating that technology had come as a force to reckon with globally.

    “I suggest we conduct electronic elections,” he said before stating that the notion of a flawless electoral process was not within reach and hat was the case globally.

    “The only way we can achieve this is to adopt the principal of transparency then elections will become more credible and less flawless.”

On the issue of card readers, another INEC Commissioner, Mohammed Mustapha added that the role of technology is indispensable because it enhances efficiency.

    “We can extend the benefit to other areas of our life,” he added.

Baba Shettima Arfo, Amina Zakari, and Antonia Taiye Okoosi Simbine, were also confirmed as INEC Commissioners.

Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose earlier berated President Muhammed Buhari over the appointment of yet another northerner, Yakubu as Chairman the electoral umpire.

According to Fayose “How then can we have a President from the North and at the same time have INEC Chairman from the Hausa/Fulani Northern Nigeria?

    “Obviously, what is being witnessed is more like a situation where it appears the President is more interested in having someone malleable to him than serving the interest of Nigeria and its people.”

See: Fayose reserves strong words for Buhari again