Today is a historic day, but it may not look so. Today is the day the Osun State Gubernatorial Election Petition Tribunal starts sitting. I have said all I need to say of the infamy that APC prosecuted on the day of the supplementary election, we’ll now leave it to the law to take its course. If there is still justice in our land, this shouldn’t be difficult. The world saw the brazen theft and strangulation of the people’s will.

But the purpose of this little note is a friendly fire. I have studied and watched the Professor Mahmood Yakubu-led INEC and I know it is a vast improvement from what we had under Professor Attahiru Jega. I did not trust Jega and I never hid it and despite the universal acceptance of the presidential election result, including the quick concession of President Jonathan, I was very unimpressed. But Professor Yakubu came in a cloud of doubts, not least because of the man who appointed him. I began to watch him closely. Over time, I began to believe that the man has an eye on history. He wants to succeed and is doing everything to succeed. 

I have followed every election the Yakubu-led INEC has conducted and I’ve scored him high in all except the last two. Though I couldn’t blame INEC much for Ekiti because Buhari and his minions overwhelmed Ekiti with their brazen criminality in the name of election, I still blamed INEC for the ‘buy and see’ debacle. Osun came. I couldn’t blame INEC after the inconclusive election. I even wrote a piece lambasting the PDP and supporting INEC a day or so before the supplementary election. And then the supplementary election came and I was tongue-tied. I haven’t blamed INEC, but I want to do so now.

INEC has indicated it was not happy with the way APC conducted itself in that supplementary election. Early in the day, it publicly expressed its worries. But things got worse. The nation witnessed the shame and the world witnessed it too. So, on the day, the critical question was not what happened because, as I said,  the world saw it and everything every independent observer recounted was just a confirmation. The real question is why did INEC, after what everybody saw happened, still go ahead to declare a result in favour of the executors of this infamy? There cannot be any defence based on a claim that the polling areas themselves were peaceful. No, INEC’s mandate goes beyond the polling areas. It covers every circumstance concerning the election. 

The embarrassing truth is that no one can defend INEC’s insistence on releasing such heavily flawed result. Most reasonable and honest people are saying if indeed it wasn’t complicit, the easiest thing to do was to cancel the rerun immediately. This would have sent the message to the cheats that they cannot profit from their crimes and return confidence to the voters. That way, a rescheduled rerun would have delivered the right outcome without any interference because it would have been better monitored by everybody and the indictment of the security services would have ensured no repeat because once they realise that they cannot test INEC’s will to deliver a free, fair and credible election, they would have had no choice but to help INEC deliver it. After all, the thugs who operated actually operated under their cover, so that would have been impossible where everyone is focused on the failure of the security services and demanding a better performance.

So, while it’s technically true that what happened is not the fault of INEC because it prepared diligently for the rerun and put everything in place for its success, by giving legitimacy to the evidently flawed outcome, it has become a full collaborator. It certainly is not enough to proclaim its innocence when in the end as the umpire it is endorsing the crime. I personally see no justification on moral or legal grounds for INEC to declare the flawed result. It should have cancelled it automatically to return hope to Nigerians. Now, the story everywhere is that the Osun rerun is the template the ruling party will be deploying in 2019. How can anyone doubt that when INEC has endorsed it? Osun is a huge step in the destruction of what was turning out to be the great legacy of Professor Yakubu. It was a brazen shot in the foot. This is the honest truth.

Today, what I would call on INEC to do is to make sure they cooperate fully with the Tribunal by letting it have the whole truth in its possession about that election, so they can reach a just and fair decision. That is another way INEC can redeem itself. Yesterday, I was disappointed to read that Mr Olusegun Agbaje said he was going to resign his position as the Osun State Resident Electoral Officer (REC) if the Supreme Court finds INEC at fault in the conduct of the Osun election. Mr Agbaje was reported to have said this in Osogbo during the presentation of the Certificate of Return to the Osun State Governor-Elect, Gboyega Oyetola and the Deputy Governor-Elect, Mr. Benedict Alabi, both of the All Progressives Congress. He said this because he felt he and INEC staff were very neutral and that they did not do anything to give any of the contestants undue advantage over others. This is a very worrying comment coming from one of the RECs reputed to be very diligent. That type of dramatic comment is uncalled. He’s done his bit and the election is over, he should leave it to the Tribunal to look into, not make that kind of provocative proclamation that amounts to actually taking sides. I mean, if you are proclaiming your neutrality after the election result has been announced and saying you will resign if you are found wanting, then you are basically taking the side of those you’ve declared winners before the Tribunal has had a chance to look into it. INEC is just one of the parties in the matter, the key parties are the contestants and parties. Mr Agbaje should have just kept schtum. I hope he would not be making any more comments about this election until the judicial process is concluded.

Below are three issues INEC must address and find solutions to before 2019:

(1) Vote-buying

(2) This bogus, unlawful and undemocratic “direct primaries” that the APC is supposedly organising. They are sowing the seeds for real trouble in the future and INEC is supporting them in the name of monitoring the process. Any process that uses the open ballot system that is intimidatory, violent, undemocratic and totally against the national secret balloting system should be null and void. INEC knows they are using this to attempt to foist huge false figures on Nigerians before the 2019 election so that they can latterly justify their theft based on these figures. I mean, INEC is approving that some fictitious 2.9 million people voted for Buhari in Kano and were counted in two hours. That is a big joke and INEC knows. Protecting the voter registers nationwide is a national security matter now.

(3) INEC keeps telling us they are working with the security agencies, but it looks like the security agencies are the cover for the thugs to perpetrate their crimes. They must find an answer to this problem, otherwise, 2019 would be a case of the Nigerian people versus the thugs and it’s not going to go down well at all. Nigerians are not happy.

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