Succeeding Jega at INEC was definitely a very daunting and tasking endeavor, including of course his emotional intelligence, that masterfully handled Orubebe’s theatrics and tantrums, in the face of a nerve wrecking loss at the polls of 2015. I had to pray a silent prayer for Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, when he was appointed as INEC chair, because he is from my state. I had not a single shred of doubt or fear in my nerves that Prof. Yakubu would not succeed in this very sensitive call to duty. I know Prof. Yakubu as a very diligent, intelligent, thorough and meticulous person; even in his daily interactions with everyday people. I was so sure and positive that he would surpass all hail Jega’s achievements, and I couldn’t wait to celebrate having a personality from my state, excelling in national assignment– and his time at INEC so far, has proven to be full of tremendous landmark achievements. When his first tenure had come to an end, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu humbly left his position, and bade farewell to INEC, without staying a single day more, in any capacity whatsoever– waiting for a renewal, in acting capacity, or before the appointment of a new Chairman.
I wrote recently about INEC’s online registration exercise, through which one can register as a voter, from anywhere in the country, or update his/her registration details. A voter can also transfer his polling unit from one state to another. Subsequently at one’s convenience, he/she can later go to the registration centers for data verification and other data capture. This has received country-wide utilisation, especially with voters that have come of the legal voting age. People that have been missing out on voting due to some proximity issues with their polling unit’s location, can now conveniently move their polling units to their preferred location. Today, the online voting exercise has recorded 2, 729, 819 online registrations, while 717, 947 persons have completed real time registration and are now eligible voters.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu also led a massive advocacy for the increase in the number of polling units, due to our ever exploding population. For a period of over 20 years, INEC was unable to increase our polling units to cater for the increment in the voter population. Just recently, under Prof’s leadership, INEC was able to increase the number of polling units by 56, 872 to make a total of 176, 846 polling units nationwide. I had highlighted previously that INEC had shown a great deal of reinvention and automation; embracing the optimisation of processes in an IT driven world of the 21st century. In the off-season polls in Ondo and Kogi states, INEC deployed a new technology called Z-pads, which enabled electoral officers to key in results from the polling units onto an INEC portal; where we viewed the results in real-time on the commission’s website as voting progressed. This of course eliminates the manipulation of result sheets and provides for the authentication of collated data directly from the polling units. The theft of results while being transferred to collation centers is also eliminated.
INEC has now introduced a highly incorruptible and digitalised means of voter accreditation via the use of what it called Bimodal voters accreditation system (BVAS). This supersedes the old fashioned card reader machine. BVAS is more advanced and of course less prone to error as it uses a dual means of identification. 1. By fingerprint method, and 2. By facial recognition technique. Either or both ways can accredit a voter to ascertain his ownership of the voter card and its data. This squarely eliminates fraud in the use of voter cards. The failure of the card reader invites the use of incidence forms which was quite susceptible to fraud. The new ZPAD has now been integrated into the IVED (INEC voter enrollment device) currently used for voter registration. BVAS can upload polling unit results into INEC’s result feed portal. The BVAS system would be used in Delta state bye-elections and subsequently in the coming Anambra polls.
The INEC Chairman emphasised that, “technology always advances with the passage of time. Consequently the commission must keep pace with the ever changing world of global information and communication technology. We are at one such crossroads at the moment.” In the last few years, INEC has really transformed, with its processes being upgraded digitally. The commission has also stepped up its role as the electoral umpire, and has been more consistent in obeying court orders/ judgements regarding the presentation of candidates by parties that have issues with their flagbearers. Yakubu has made us proud in Bauchi, as a worthy ambassador of the great emirate of the Titan, Yakubun Bauchi. It is no coincidence they bear the same name and attributes and also hail from the same Bauchi. I will continue to pray for him that should there be an Orubebe or the like, the entire country would be awed by his countenance and nerves of steel!
Tahir is Talban Bauchi.