Mahmood Yakubu, national chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commissioner (INEC), says politicians who praise INEC when elections favour them turn around to cast aspersion on the commission when things do not go their way.
Speaking at a meeting with editors in Lagos on Monday, Yakubu said INEC would keep on playing its role as an umpire.
He said the commission chose to engage journalists in order to have their input on the steps that INEC needs to take to strengthen the electoral process.
“We will continue to do our best but our concern is where the trust is reduced by people who will say the best thing that ever happened to Nigeria since 1914 is INEC when they win an election but when they don’t win, they say it’s the worst thing that happened since Lord Lugard,” he said.
“There is a story I love to tell. I am just in love with this story. There was a time that we conducted a gubernatorial election, I won’t tell you the state. I monitored it from Abuja via live television. One of the candidates lamented after casting his vote. The smart card reader couldn’t pick his biometric immediately.
“He tried the second time, he tried the third time, it won’t work. He was eventually accredited and he voted. He came with his wife; his wife had no problem whatsoever but immediately after voting, he turned to the cameramen and started abusing INEC.
“He said ‘this INEC will crash our democracy’… he complained about the card readers not working. He said and I quote, ‘We are creating the impression that we are a nation of scammers’. We never responded; we continued with our job. We concluded the election and perhaps to his surprise, he was declared winner.
“So when the certificate of return was presented to him, I watched the live coverage on television again. Immediately he collected the certificate and grabbed the microphone, one of the first things he said was that the best thing that ever happened to our election is the card reader. So, when someone wins an election, our election management board is the best. When someone loses an election, our election management board is the worst thing that ever happened to the country.”
Yakubu said INEC needed the support of stakeholders, especially the media, to succeed.
He said some of the recommendations made by foreign and local observers could not be implemented by the commission alone.
“Many national and international observer have made recommendations but some of these recommendations cannot be implemented by INEC alone. They require collaboration with others and in many cases, amendment to electoral legal framework which is actually beyond INEC itself, it has to go the national assembly,” he said.
“Let me give you an example, the EU made 30 recommendations to improve the electoral processes in Nigeria. Out of which only nine can be implemented by INEC by administrative action. The Commonwealth made 24 recommendations out of which only eight can be implemented by INEC by administrative action.
“We are committed to ensure some of the recommendations that can be implemented by administrative action will be implemented in forthcoming Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections.”
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