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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Dino’s Recall: A Warning for 2019 Elections

Is the current INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, strong enough to conduct free and elections in 2019?
This question will start to occur in the minds of many analysts. Personally, I am equally worried that the decision to suspend the recall of Dino Malaye by the electoral body yesterday came just after the Senate President threatened to probe the tenure of the INEC Chairman at TETFund.
To be fair to our friend, Professor Yakubu, we must not rush to conclusion. It might be a sheer coincidence, which implies that INEC had already decided to suspend the recall before the threat was issued to the Chairman. The worry is if it is not. So far, almost all reports I have read have assumed that it was not a coincidence – a conclusion they reached without any proof. Here, caution is the key.
The problem I have here is not so much about suspending the recall as about the threat. In this case, Saraki has not shown the disposition of a statesman. I have always argued against his demonization but on this one I cannot help saying that I am grossly disappointed with his readiness to employ whatever means is at his disposal to stop a transparent process.
I hailed him when the bill allowing electoral voting was passed two months ago. If the same Senate Chairman will within few weeks turnaround to stop the constitutional recall of another senator, there is every reason to worry that more lethal arsenals will be employed by him and his colleagues against the electoral body to ensure that transparent elections that will flush out bad eggs out of the system do not hold in 2019.
Saraki was not the first to do that. The PDP tried it on Jega in 2014, alleging that he bought some properties in Abuja but, luckily, it did not follow that through. The difference with Saraki is that he is institutionalizing the threat by employing the powers of the Senate. I am afraid that riding on the blank cheque of its hypnotized, fanatical followership, APC has been acting more crudely and will do worse than PDP if necessary to stay in power beyond 2019.
Saraki, surely, will not be alone. He has co-travellers in the executive arm as well. There is no difference between the Senate and the Executive in this administration. Both have played it dirty in attacking their opponents. The recent sack of NHIS Secretary by the Minister of Health for simply spilling the beans must not come as a shock to anyone.
Corruption has become a hallmark of this government just as it had been during the PDP days. So we do not expect it to come out cleaner than the PDP when it comes to elections. Governors of the ruling APC have proved to be no lesser devils than those of the PDP. None of them has so far allowed the opposition to win local government elections in his domain, not even in one local government. To expect that they will fold their arms in 2019 and get kicked out is simply naïve.
Our friend, Professor Yakubu, and his INEC have a huge task before them. I just pray that their suspension of Senator Dino’s recall was a coincidence. But if it turns out to be as a result of the intimidation from the Senate, then we are in for a long haul in 2019. It will clearly show that the Professor can be coerced to run less transparent elections.
My only advice for INEC is to concentrate in improving the technology content of the elections, beyond card reader, which I believe the crooks by now have mastered how to beat. Technology is the only thing that defeats crooks, especially when it catches them unawares. In it lies our salvation not in people that have proved to be as corrupt as their predecessors.
The Senate will definitely go ahead with its probe of TETFund. If it finds Professor Yakubu guilty of something – no matter how little – it gives Saraki and the ruling APC the opportunity to change him with a weaker Chairman before 2019 elections. Have we heard anyone in APC or the Presidency arguing for the restoration of the NHIS Secretary?
Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
14 July, 2017

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