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Why I set up a separate committee to handle election logistics… Mahmood Yakubu
THE National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, has explained why he had to form an advisory ad-hoc committee to handle the issue of logistics for the 2019 general elections different from the commission’s standing committee on electoral operations and logistics.
Yakubu’s explanation became necessary following the controversy generated by the sudden postponement of the presidential and national assembly elections earlier scheduled for Saturday, 16 February due to logistics failure.
The ICIR published a report on Monday in which it called out members of the INEC standing committee on logistics for failing in their responsibility. But it has since emerged that a separate ad-hoc committee, headed by retired Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Tijani Mu’azu, was responsible for the issue of logistics for the general elections.
During a press briefing on Tuesday, Yakubu was asked why he formed a separate committee to handle logistics issues for the general elections when INEC already has a standing committee that could have undertaken the assignment.
He responded: “Shortly after we appointed as commissioners, remember we didn’t have the full complements of national commissioners, and we had to operate the committee system, there is a committee called ‘Electoral Operations and Logistics’.
“But in 2015, that committee operated as ‘Electoral Operations’, distinct from ‘Logistics Committee’, and they were headed by two different commissioners. But in 2015, the two responsibilities were combined and one commissioner was appointed to be responsible for that.”
It is not clear whether Yakubu meant to say 2019 in one of the places he mentioned 2015 in the above quote.
He continued: “As we approached the 2019 general elections, we thought that instead of separating the two committees, we should allow the electoral operations committee to continue with its functions for electoral operations, which includes many things including the revision of regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections, and the conduct of the many off-season elections, for which, as was reported on Saturday, we had a hundred and ninety-five elections off-season between 2015 and the Osun governorship election in September last year.
“So, the committee retained its responsibilities for electoral operations. But the commission decided that the responsibility for handling of logistics – basically the movement of materials from some locations to states – should be under a committee of the commission which is an advisory ad-hoc committee, which I publicly, publicly inaugurated.
“It wasn’t a function necessarily taken behind the back of any commissioner, it was the decision of the commission not to saddle the committee on electoral operations with the responsibility of handling logistics.
“So a committee was appointed which includes two other national commissioners, a number of directors of the commission, as well as external members. The external members include the Central Bank of Nigeria, the armed forces, the State Security Service, the police, the airports management authority, and many others that contribute to moving materials from locations. And that committee was chaired by a commissioner who coincidentally happened to be a retired Air Vice Marshal of the Nigeria Air Force.
“In terms of the disposition of the commissioners of the commission, he was the closest person to a logistician on the commission and therefore he headed that committee in that capacity. Not only that, if you look at his background, in previous elections, while he was serving as an air force officer, he also assisted the commission in mobilising aircraft and the movement of materials. So, we thought we were very lucky to have that kind of personnel, retired, as a commissioner of the commission to help in the delivery of logistics.
“Yes, things didn’t go quite the way they should have gone. But, honestly, if you look at the sheer logistics of conducting the 2019 general elections, this kind of thing was probably, probably going to happen.
“We didn’t quite anticipate what happened last week, we have said so and we regret the inconvenience this has caused the nation.
“And as a result of what happened on Saturday, I want to seize this opportunity to assure you and to assure Nigerians that this will not happen to the elections on the 9th of March. The governorship, state assembly and FCT Area Council elections.”
Yakubu said that the materials for the March 9 elections are already being transferred to the various locations well ahead of time.