By Tunde Odesola
Both men operate in the country’s circus called politics. One is the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission. His name is Mahmood Yakubu, a guerilla warfare expert and Professor of Political History and International Studies. The other is the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, to which the ruthless National Union of Road Transport Workers is beneficially affiliated. His full name is Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Jagaban Borgu. At their respective levels, Tinubu and Yakubu control some levers capable of determining the swing of electoral pendulum in Nigeria’s impending general election. While Yakubu is the nation’s electoral referee, Tinubu is a gifted political striker, leading the re-election offensive of the ruling APC. Tinubu spoke on February 14, the day when Valentine died for love. Yakubu spoke a day after, precisely, the night before the presidential and legislative elections were to hold. Tinubu spoke in relation to the 2019 elections. So did Yakubu. While Tinubu’s speech was a pure vandalism of democracy, Yakubu’s speech was a broad daylight rape on its altar. Tinubu’s latest speech was a much worse version of the nonsense he spewed last September at the palace of the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun, during the countdown to the Osun State governorship election, when he boasted of being richer than the Land of the Virtue. I’ll come back to Tinubu’s speech shortly; Yakubu’s speech demands a national emergency!
Yakubu is currently in the eye of the storm owing to the conspiratorial failure of INEC, under his leadership, to conduct an election upon which several billions of naira, human resources and a whole four years were spent. Were words stones, Yakubu would have died on Friday night and been buried in accordance with Islamic rites, on Saturday. Unlike Goliath who was slain by just a pebble fired from the sling of little David, the death of Yakubu would have resulted from hemorrhage occasioned by acute compound fractures to the skull, ribcage, spinal cord, collarbone, cheekbone, chinbone, eye sockets, sternum, scapula, tibia, femur, tarsal and metatarsals, all. I daresay that of all the 206 bones in the skeleton of Yakubu, none would’ve been left unbroken. Since Yakubu announced the week-long postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections on Friday night, peace and sleep must have eluded him. Only a heartless don would dismiss the angry flood of condemnation currently peeling off public trust from the scaly body of the suspect INEC. Ousted political thieves and their incumbent counterparts have roundly condemned INEC for postponing till next Saturday, the jackpot day when the jackal will kill its four-year kill. Some have even called for the resignation of Yakubu, whom they rechristened incompetent, insincere, unreliable, collusive and corrosive. Even, the good old President Muhammadu Buhari expressed ‘discontentment’ over the postponement, saying the elections shouldn’t have been postponed because of logistics problems in 14 of the 774 local government areas of the country.
I won’t impeach Yakubu’s academic prowess but I hugely doubt his managerial ability – his Oxford and Cambridge certificates notwithstanding. Or, isn’t this the same Yakubu that foisted ‘inconclusive elections’ on Nigeria with the most recent Osun governorship election being his latest bequeathal? Arguably reputed by Wikipedia to be the first and only first-class graduate of history from northern Nigeria, Yakubu, by this postponement, exemplifies the irony underlining why Nigeria’s mechanical engineering graduates look up to roadside mechanics to fix their vehicles; it explains the gulf between the curricula content and reality context distancing the gown (universities) from the town (masses). This postponement exposes a scholar of history who has learnt nothing from history, and allowed history to shamefully repeat itself. This postponement also calls for a review of the unwritten policy of appointing only professors to head the country’s electoral bodies. Who says competent and reliable professionals from other callings apart from the ivory towers and the judiciary cannot produce credible results where foregone statesmen, Michael Ani (1979), Victor Ovie-Whisky (1980-1983), Abel Goubadia (2000-2005) and Maurice Iwu (2005-2010), had produced questionable election results?
Surely, this isn’t the first time elections would be postponed in the country. Election postponement has become a tactical tool developed since the days of the Peoples Democratic Party to exhaust the vote mobilization funds of the opposition, days to election D-Day; and the APC appears to have perfected the mechanism under the guerilla expert called Yakubu. Boasting about the high-level preparedness of INEC for the 2019 elections when he appeared on ‘The Osasu Show’ several weeks ago, Yakubu emphatically declared, “I can’t foresee any possibility of postponement. We’ve started this a long time ago, we’ve gone ahead with our preparations, there’s no possibility of postponement. INEC is not even contemplating the postponement of the 2019 general elections. 16th of February is for the national elections, and the 2nd March (is) for the state elections and the FCT, and we are prepared.”
Professor Attahiru Jega (2010-2015), who conducted a largely acceptable general election about four years, was forced to announce a six-week postponement of the 2015 presidential and legislature elections from February 14 to March 28 when military chiefs, in collusion with the PDP-led government headed by President Goodluck Jonathan, said they could not guarantee security for the election. But the heartlessness of Yakubu’s postponement would make the strongest yak flinch. In a personally signed five-paragraph statement announcing the postponement on Friday, Yakubu never apologized for the heavy financial losses, naked pains and sinful waste the postponement visited upon Nigerians. As if communing with some unknown mammon, a wicked Yakubu, while announcing the postponement, had no word for millions of Nigerian, whose livelihoods and freedom of movement were put on hold by the proposed election. He simply carried on with bloodless authority. His hare-brained excuse of bad weather being the other reason for the postponement aside from logistics was treasonable.
Back to Tinubu’s drivel: In his Bourdillon haven located on Lagos Island, Ikoyi, Tinubu hosted numerous APC supporters on Valentine’s Day. Addressing the ecstatic supporters in his dense and sluggish voice, Tinubu openly admitted his gaffe at the palace of the Ataoja. He said in Yoruba, “They said today is the day of love, that this is the hat I should wear. That’s why I wore this hat. I wore it because of you women…You’ll deliver the votes fully. It’s after I see result that I’ll bring out princely funds. If your shoes become worn and you deliver, I guarantee you good money.”
“I’ll caution my mouth. I drove my mouth roughly in Osun but it paid off. That was when they (masses) complained that candidates were picked from Lagos; that Aregbe was brought (from Lagos), that Oyetola was brought (from Lagos). If we train your children and they become intelligent and experienced, shouldn’t we allow them to come back home to develop their state? I said how much is your money which you’re alleging I want to embezzle? You don’t have my money (laughs)! Their king was seated, I said, ‘You don’t have my kind of money, more so, I can reduce your money to mere change!’ (Unknown to me) they were recording the exchange; that was how it went viral. I’ll caution my mouth, so that I don’t repeat a similar thing today, but Buhari doesn’t have the money that I want to steal; I don’t want to take any money from him, and he doesn’t have the type of money needed for Lagos votes. The money that I promise you is for real and it’s coming from my pocket. It’s not until I go to Alausa (Lagos Governor’s Office) that I would have money to give you!” And the people roared foolishly.
Tinubu’s irritating tale and Yakubu’s atrocious action point to the doom of a country. They confirm why the rest of the world suspects we strayed into humanity from the wild.