by Emeka Obasi
LAGOS, Nigeria – Overseeing elections in Nigeria is a thankless job. Many decent folks came out of it with life damaging stains. Prof. Mahmood Yakubu is condemned to do a good job and remain an eternal national hero. It is doable and I will support him.
Late Ghanaian hero, Jerry Rawlings so much believed in legendary boxer, Azumah Nelson that he ordered him to die for country if need be, during a world title fight. “ Die, Azumah die”, Rawlings shouted from Osu Castle.
‘Zoom Zoom’ Azumah was ready to die. Rawlings’ words gingered him to last so long as world champion. Three other Ghanaians, Nana Yaw Konadu, Ike ‘ Bazooka’ Quartey and Alfred Kotey became world champions under JJ.
When I urge Yakubu to die, I mean he should win the 2023 duel for Nigeria. As INEC boss, this Toro man has all it takes to be an eternal hero. The elections may make or break the country.
And I have volunteered to pray for this Special One. The INEC boss bagged a First Class degree from the University of Sokoto ( now Usman Dan Fodio University) in 1985. I studied History and can proudly say that any one who made that grade in History must be exceptional.
History is on the side of Mahmood. President Muhammadu Buhari has spent the maximum eight years and, I am convinced, is not working for any of the Presidential candidates. PMB has offered a level playing ground which is all the electoral body needs.
The Electronic Voting system is not just beneficial to the electorate, it will help guarantee the professor a place in the National Hall of Fame. Here is an opportunity to conduct free, fair and credible elections. It is doable.
A man of History, Yakubu is the longest serving Chief Electoral Umpire in the country. This is his eighth year. It is for good reason. The first professor of History to head the Commission, Okon Uya spent a few months in office.
A professor of History should make History. It is pretty difficult to have a 100 percent hitch- free poll. But we can boast of a reasonably sound exercise. Mahmood did not pick post graduate degrees at Cambridge and Oxford Universities for nothing.
From 1922 when elections were held for the first time in Nigeria with three politicians joining the Nigerian Legislative Council to make 33 members, till date, there have been complaints. I am not asking the INEC boss to turn water into wine. He is not a Miracle Worker.
Mr. Eyo Esua was a complete gentleman and excelled as a teacher. When he was made Chief Electoral Commisoner on May Day, 1964, the Unionist was out to get it right. Then politicians came with their wahala. The Wild West happened.
Oba Keleko Adesanya, member of the Western Region House of Chiefs lost his life with about 800 others. Chief Odeleye Fadahunsi was lucky to survive even as Governor but his house went up in flames. Esua was removed and his position given to fellow Efik, Chief Michael Ani.
Esua’s belief in Nigeria was not shaken. His son, Eyo, a medical doctor married to an Yoruba woman, joined the Army and rose to the rank of colonel. His grandson, another Eyo, joined the Infantry and also retired as a Red Neck.
Ani, a great footballer who came to Lagos with Calabar Eleven in their 6-0 drubbing by a formidable Lagos squad, was brought back by General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1976.
The soldiers determined that Alhaji Shehu Shagari won the Presidential Election even before Chief Richard Akinjide’s 12 Two Thirds submission at the Supreme Court. Ani had no hand in it. Some Historians continue to paint him black even in death.
Justice Victor Ovie Whiskey started nationalism at Kings College in 1944. Then Emeka Ojukwu, an 11- year- old student slapped his white teacher for belittling a black bloke.
Ovie Whiskey was turned to caricature brandy after the 1983 presidential elections. For a man who loved Nigeria so much and served as judge without blemish, electoral matters did him a lot of harm. He never saw naira in millions.
All the professors that came before Yakubu were not canonised. Eme Awa left, his student Humphrey Nwosu was hired and fired. He has not said everything about June 12. I remember Femi Adesina tagging Maurice Iwu, Iwuruwuru. Attahiru Jega was almost slammed with Jagajaga by Olorogun Orubebe.
This is History, just to remind Mahmood of the past. Toro means bull in one lingo. Toro is the largest local government area in Nigeria. There are Toro people in Uganda. And I know Sani Ahmed Toro did so well as scribe of the NFF.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, from Toro in Bauchi has History in his pocket. The country is in search of a modern Hero. We can have a credible winner after the February presidential Elections. Yakubu is that hero that will make it happen.