Prof. Mahmood Yakubu was born in May 1962 in Bauchi, Bauchi State. He is a Nigerian academic and current Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). All eyes are definitely on him now, both within the country and in the outside world, as the nation prepares for a general election in a few weeks’ time. He earned his first degree from Sokoto University, now Usmanu Danfodiyo University (UDU), Sokoto. He is also a student of the prestigious universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Yakubu was a lecturer, guerrilla warfare expert and Professor of Political History and International Studies at the Nigerian Defense Academy (NDA).
However, he was pulled from the classroom to answer the national call, first as Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) after being appointed to the position in 2007 by then-President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and later as the President of INEC by President Muahammadu Buhari on October 21, 2015. During his tenure as TETFUND Secretary, a National Book Development Fund was established, supporting 102 professional association journals.
In addition, while in this job, he worked as a member of the Federal Government team in the Renegotiation of the Federal Government Agreement with the Union of Academic Staff of Universities (ASUU) under the leadership of Deacon Gamaliel Onosode. He served on the Presidential Task Force on Education, the Presidential Grants for Innovation and Development (PRESID) Committee, the Implementation Committee of the Presidential Fund for the Revitalization of Nigerian Public Universities, the Ministerial Implementation Committee on the Establishment of Nine New Federal Universities, the Almajiri Educational System, and was the Chairman of the President’s Committee on Needs Assessment of Nigerian Public Universities.
When his five-year term ended in 2012, Yakubu was credited with not only improving but also bringing innovations to the country’s higher education system. These innovations include the academic staff development and training programme, which paid more than 6,000 professors from different higher education institutions to obtain postgraduate degrees at Nigerian universities and more than 2,000 professors to obtain postgraduate degrees at universities outside of Nigeria. He also served as a technical member of the Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC) of the Presidential Special Intervention Fund for the Revitalization of Nigerian Public Universities in 2013.
Yakubu was Assistant Secretary for Finance and Administration at the 2014 National Conference hosted by the then-President, Goodluck Jonathan, and in 2013 received an honorary fellowship from the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR).
Yakubu achieved a new national record when he was endorsed by President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term as INEC President in 2020. With the extension of his tenure as INEC head for a second five-year term, Yakubu becomes the first head of an electoral committee. agency to achieve extension of tenure in post-independence Nigeria.
All of his 11 predecessors served only one term. Thus, out of the country’s 12 election presidents since independence, Yakubu becomes the first to serve two terms, having been appointed by Buhari in 2015 to succeed Professor Attahiru Jega. But for the enthusiastic followers of this illustrious Bauchi Indian, this would not be the first time Yakubu had broken records. At Sokoto University (today Usmanu Danfodiyo University) where he earned his first degree, this scholar-technocrat holds the sole glory of being the first Northerner to earn a First-Class in History at the school. His management as head of INEC was a call to glory but like all good things; Not everything was rosy at first. It started slowly and received a lot of criticism. However, he was resilient and showed tenacity and determination to succeed.
In August 2016, INEC was accused of holding too many inconclusive elections in a short period after Yakubu’s appointment. In fact, at one point, critics called Yakubu “Mr. Inconclusive ”, an annotation to the series of hanging elections that INEC under his command carried out with delayed results beyond the electoral cycle. But in defending this accusation, Yakubu said the accusation was “misinformed”, “misplaced and undeserved”.
He explained that “inconclusive elections are caused by violence and excess voting and that the notion of inconclusive election is not foreign to our law (see sections 26 and 53 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended)”.
In October 2019, shortly after the general election, Yakubu rejected suggestions that all the elections held since he took office had been inconclusive.
He said that the commission can only resort to declaring the elections inconclusive when the circumstances warrant it. He said: “First, what is an inconclusive choice? It’s an election that hasn’t emerged a first-ballot winner, which is essentially what it is. So now get out there and fix the problem and make a statement. Is it strange in Nigeria? It is not weird. In 2013, was the Anambra governor’s election concluded on the first ballot? In 2015, the gubernatorial election in the state of Taraba was declared inconclusive; the commission was mobilized again and concluded the election two weeks later. In 2011 and 2015, the Imo governor election was inconclusive, the commission was remobilized. In 2015, Abia’s election was inconclusive, the commission was remobilized.
“There are two sections of the Electoral Law that we must focus on. The first is article 26, which says “in case of violence or natural disaster, the INEC should not proceed to an election and if the total number of people registered in the affected place is greater than the margin of lead where the election has been held.” election, then do not make a statement until you come back and complete the election.”
Despite this criticism, Yakubu may have found the saving grace for his career in the two gubernatorial elections that INEC held in 2020. In Edo, the commission held what was seen as a free and fair election, reflecting the true desires of the electorate. Governor Godwin Obaseki, who had left the ruling Center party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), for the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), won the September 29, 2020 elections. INEC repeated the feat in the Ondo gubernatorial election on October 10, the same year incumbent Governor Rotimi Akeredolu won the election. Those two choices certainly enhanced Yakubu’s reputation. Why change a winning team? So it was no surprise that President Buhari gave him a second term. Leading up to this year’s elections, INEC was also congratulated on the successful conduct of two elections in 2022. The gubernatorial election in Ekiti last June and the one in Osun State in July 2022 brought hope to many Nigerians who until now they were skeptical of INEC’s decisions. ability to conduct free, fair and credible elections. The result was evident in the roaring crowd of young people who turned out to obtain permanent voter cards for the upcoming elections.
One thing that has kept Yakubu and INEC under his wing is his determination to succeed where others have failed. The amount of litigation against INEC or in which INEC joined is enough to send an orris liver out of office, but not Yakubu, as he vowed to always be on the side of the law no matter what the cost. Many observers of political events have also praised the INEC under Yakubu for its insistence on the use of modern technology, particularly the Bimodal Voter Registration System (BVAS) and the Election Results Viewing Portal (IReV). Technology is important in bringing transparency and, by extension, credibility to the crucial February 2023 presidential election. It is instructive that Yakubu has maintained that there is no going back on the use of technology, despite calls by some for his resignation. or removal about their position on the matter.
The BVAS is a technological device used to identify and accredit the fingerprints and facial recognition of voters before voting, while the IReV is an online portal where results at the polling station level are uploaded directly from the polling station, are broadcast and released to the public. At the front end of the online portal, members of the public can create personal accounts with which they can access all uploaded results stored as PDF files. This accessibility of results at the voting unit level increases transparency and public confidence in the process. The success of some off-cycle elections, especially in Ekiti and Osun, has been attributed to the use of BVAS. The 2023 election is Yakubu’s date with history, will he make it? Nigerians and all democracy lovers around the world are waiting for you while wishing you success.