Mahmood Yakubu’s Second Chance, By Azu Ishiekwene

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#TrackNigeria -Last week, when I described the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (), Mahmood Yakubu, as one of the most frequently executed men on social media, I had no idea what was coming.

About 48 hours later – and after weeks, if not months of repeatedly assuring the public that the commission was ready – he unexpectedly announced a one-week postponement of the elections. He set himself up not just for a fresh round of execution but also to have his remains burnt at the electoral stake.  

The Yakubu picking up the pieces and rallying his team to fix Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections through a purgatory of remedial steps is a Yakubu in a bad place. Only after the elections have been successfully conducted at the same time in the 36 states and Abuja and the results announced will Mahmood Yakubu begin to get his life back.

It’s pointless going over the details of what happened. That’s old story. We have been told that a combination of logistics nightmare, bad weather – and possibly sabotage – made it impossible to go ahead with the polls last week. This was the official version. The conspiracy theories, like most conspiracy theories, were far more complicated, and even surreal.

While the version peddled in Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) circles claimed that the postponement was the fallout of resistance by Yakubu to give in to pressure by the ruling APC to stagger the elections, starting with 26 states, the common version in All Progressives Congress (APC) circles was that PDP moles in compromised the system by deliberately mis-dispatching or delaying the dispatch of election materials to APC strongholds.

The only things constant are Yakubu’s name and politicians’ desperation.

I think Yakubu understands that unlike his predecessor, Attahiru Jega, he would not get another chance. He understands that unlike 2007 when significant amounts of electoral materials arrived in the country from South Africa one week after the election, voters deserve a better deal and that’s what he promised them.

He understands that unlike 2011 when the election was postponed hours after voting had commenced, or 2015 when the country was forced to shift the vote for six weeks for security reasons, voters will not accept any further excuses because that’s not what he promised them.

Yakubu promised results. He promised free, fair and credible elections that will deepen voter confidence.

He has done well so far. On his watch the commission has conducted 195 rerun and off-season elections, recording fewer court-ordered re-elections than in any other elections in the last two cycles. He has recorded the largest expansion in the voter roll through continuous registration and, for the first time, made significant changes to help the physically challenged have easier access.

He has successfully planned and faithfully executed 13 of the 14 items on the 2019 election timetable, though the cost of tripping on the last task could be more disastrous that the sum total of his success so far.

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