President Muhammadu Buhari has reappointed Professor Mahmood Yakubu as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for another five-year term. The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, confirmed this in a statement on Tuesday. Adesina disclosed that President Buhari had nominated Professor Yakubu for an appointment as INEC chairman
President Muhammadu Buhari has reappointed Professor Mahmood Yakubu as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for another five-year term.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, confirmed this in a statement on Tuesday.
Adesina disclosed that President Buhari had nominated Professor Yakubu for an appointment as INEC chairman for a second and final term in a letter addressed to the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan.
He explained that the President’s action was in accordance with the provision of Section 154 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
Professor Yakubu’s reappointment is, however, subjected to approval by members of the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
“I am pleased to present for confirmation by the Senate, the nomination of Professor Mahmood Yakubu for appointment as Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for a second and final term,” President Buhari was quoted as saying in the letter.
He first appointed the INEC chairman to oversee the activities of the electoral umpire in November 2015, six months after he assumed the office of the President.
Since the appointment of Professor Yakubu who took over from Professor Attahiru Jega, INEC has conducted many elections, including the 2019 polls which saw the President extending his stay in office for another four years.
Apart from making strides in the topping of the voters’ register which reached 84 million before the last general election, Yakubu is also reputed to have followed the footsteps of his predecessor, by massively digitalising the electoral process with filing of candidates now done online via a portal. A sore point still remains the introduction of electronic voting that may open the flanks for many of our citizens in the Diaspora to also cast lot during elections. On 7 January 2019, he released a new voting system for the 2019 general election.
Conducting mainstream and several off season elections in Nigeria’s 179,000 polling units is no doubt a daunting task and a thankless job. But Yakubu has confronted this challenge with a methodical seriousness in a country hinged on a strong ethno religious divide and where politicians hardly believe they can fairly lose elections.
Yakubu was born in Bauchi State, Northern Nigeria. He completed his basic and secondary school education at Kobi Primary School and Government Teachers College, Toro, respectively. He proceeded to the University of Sokoto (now Usmanu Danfodiyo University), where he became the first and, to date, only Nigerian from the North to obtain a first-class degree certificate in history. At postgraduate level, he studied International Relations at Wolfson College, Cambridge, graduating with master’s degree in 1987, and Nigerian history at the University of Oxford, graduating with a doctorate in 1991.The Bauchi State Government offered him a scholarship to study at both the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford. He went on to become a three-time recipient of the Overseas Research Scholarship, and also won the Commonwealth Scholarship from the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
Yakubu is an expert in guerrilla warfare, and Professor of Political History and International Studies at the Nigerian Defence Academy. Prior to his appointment as Chairman of INEC, he served as the executive secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), being appointed to office in 2007 by then-President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. During his tenure as secretary, a National Book Development Fund was established, supporting 102 journals of professional associations.
Yakubu also served as Assistant Secretary of Finance and Administration at the 2014 National Conference. In 2013, he was awarded an honorary fellowship of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expressed the optimism that the reappointment of Prof Yakubu as INEC chairman will serve as impetus to credible elections in the country.
In a statement on Wednesday by the party’s spokesman, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said the reappointment has entrusted Prof Yakubu with the fate, hope and future of over 200 million Nigerians, as well as those of generations yet unborn.
The PDP said, “We consider this reappointment by President Buhari as an impetus to demonstrate a readiness for a free, fair and credible election, which Mr. President had always promised to bequeath at the end of his second and final term in office in 2023.
“In the light of this five-year extension, our party hopes that the failures, disappointments and miscarriages that characterised the first five years tenure of Yakubu will have no place in the new order.
“It is therefore instructive to state that with his re-appointment, Prof Yakubu has been given an ample time and opportunity to redeem himself, the image of the Commission and preparation for credible, free and fair elections in our country.
“At least, with this reappointment, whatever happens in our future elections cannot be ascribed to inexperience and lack of adequate preparedness on the side of INEC”.
The main opposition party charged the INEC chairman to spend the nearly three years ahead of the next general election to rejig the Commission.
It also charged him to work out appropriate electoral policies and guidelines and to push for amendment of the Electoral Act, in conjunction with the National Assembly, with a view to giving the nation a credible electoral process.
Urging Professor Yakubu to be mindful of the aphorism that to whom much is given, much more is expected, the PDP said the reappointment comes with a lot of expectations from Nigerians.
“He must quickly take painstaking look into issues that aid manipulations, rigging, violence and inconclusive elections which marred most of the exercises conducted in his previous tenure.
“Prof. Yakubu should note that the future, stability and corporate existence of our nation have been entrusted in his hands as credible election is the bedrock of any democratic society”, it added.
The party also urged the National Assembly, particularly, the Senate, to focus on these pertinent issues in the course of screening Prof. Yakubu to ensure that the failures of the past are not given accommodation in the new era.