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Mahmood Yakubu INEC’s electoral fraud, a year after

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Convincing Nigerians to participate in future elections conducted by the INEC under Mahmood Yakubu, will be an uphill task. The INEC chairman and his team should go.  

The mistake Nigerian leaders make is in thinking that the citizens easily forget. But that is wrong. Times have changed. With improvements in technology and other electronic devices, errors by the leaders are kept, to be served them at appropriate moments, often in harsh measures. In other words, the evil that men do, now lives with them. Some call it nemesis, others say it is natural justice at work. Whatever it is, the lessons are instructive.

Days to February 25, 2024, social media platforms were awash with flyers urging Nigerians to keep the date in mind for reflection and as a sad reminder of the electoral heist committed against them by Prof Mahmood Yakubu-led Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in 2023. Netizens were asked to say silent prayers on that day, that never again would the country be afflicted with the person and likes of Yakubu in any of its national institutions. That was a solemn declaration that should give any right-thinking man cause for concern.

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In Igbo cosmogony, such declaration amounts to ritual cleansing, often carried out by communities when heinous crimes have been committed against the land. On such occasion, the scapegoat, a he-goat upon whose head is symbolically placed the sins and transgressions of an entire community, bears the burden of atonement for sins it did not commit. It is left to wander about, uncared for but unharmed by any member of the society, as a remembrance for the ugly past.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Day, usually marked on 27 January, approximates to that. The Day reminds of the killing of six million Jews, two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population, and millions of others by the Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945, in its sordid attempt to implement its “final solution” to the Jewish question. A commitment to guard against a recurrence of the bizarre action, has given rise to various activities, including the Never Again Movement.

It is on this ground that the true meaning of the social media flyers preceding the February 25 anniversary of the 2023 presidential election, can be appreciated. We may recap the events of that day to drive home the anger of traumatized Nigerians, especially the youths. February 25, 2023 was a day of Nigeria’s presidential election; the day that the hopes by Nigerians for enthroning enduring democratic culture were dashed by Prof Mahmood Yakubu’s INEC and the former President, Muhammadu Buhari.

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Before the fateful date, Buhari and the INEC Chairman, had fooled Nigerians, promising them free and fair elections. Buhari had at each juncture, announced to the world that he was working towards instituting a legacy of credible electoral democracy in the land. At every forum, he kept advertising the pledge.

Yakubu followed suit, beating his chest that the days of election manipulation were over. He had particularly flaunted the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV), as safeguards against rigging. Nigerians, old and young, who had yawned for transparent election, believed them.

But when it mattered most, it became glaring that neither the erstwhile President, nor the INEC chair was prepared to keep to those promises. They rather showed that they had a hidden agenda at compromising the poll. Yakubu was nowhere to be seen, while Buhari mocked Nigerians by brandishing his ballot paper, showing that he voted for the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu.

The outcome was quite demoralizing. It is thus not surprising that millions of Nigerians who had queued to vote, especially the youths, many of who had not voted before then, are still in shock, a year after. Many have vowed not to participate in the country’s future electoral processes. For a country with an estimated 60 percent of its population consisting of youths, that is a big deal. It means that the future of democracy in the country, looks bleak.

Of course, you may not blame the youths for their extreme position. They are hurt. Like a virgin raped by someone she had trusted and looked up to as a mentor, they are disappointed and scared. For them, all the hopes of a better system have melted in the air. Nigeria has happened to them and has dealt a fatal blow on them and their psyche.

Reversing the mental and emotional injury on the people, requires revisiting the source of their trauma. That is the essence of the February 25 prayers against another Mahmood Yakubu in superintending over a sensitive office in the land.

So, when INEC released its reports on the poll and claimed that the glitch experienced in uploading the scanned images of polling unit presidential election result sheets on February 25, 2023 was due to the inherent complexity within the system, which was difficult to anticipate and mitigate, it knew that it was not telling Nigerians the truth.  How can the same body that before the elections, repeatedly assured that it would upload the election results to the IRev portal in real-time, turn to offer excuses that do not make meanings? Recall that at some point even, the chairman swore that nothing would make INEC shift from electronic transfer of the results.

The fact which Yakubu and members of his gang have not admitted is that INEC under them, worked from the answer in 2023. Everything in the conduct of the presidential election was programmed to foist Tinubu on the country. That informed his declaration as the winner in the wee hours of the night. With that, the package was sealed and delivered. Nigerians were merely deceived into a wild goose chase in the name of an election. Peter Obi, the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate in the poll, was thus, right in dismissing the report as medicine after death.

The judiciary, which the people turned to for succour, did not help matters. It rather compounded the situation with its controversial judgements. The Supreme Court judgement validating the election of Tinubu, against glaring instances of rigging, certificate forgery, identity theft and inconsistencies on personal data, is one outing that will haunt Nigeria’s democracy for a long time. Ignoring the substance of the issues and latching on technicalities to subvert justice in a case, is a serious disservice to democracy.

Convincing Nigerians to participate in future elections conducted by the INEC under Mahmood Yakubu, will be an uphill task. The INEC chairman and his team should go.

To be sure, elections cannot only be free and fair when won by the opposition. The ruling party can also come tops in a transparent poll. What matters is the fairness of the exercise and allowing the voter, the right to make his choice. That is why elections are seen as celebrations of democracy. Nigerians did not have that luxury in the last general elections. Mahmood Yakubu owes them more explanations on what happened.

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