By Taiwo Adebowale
A group of young Nigerians has written to the Chairman of INEC, Prof Yakubu Mahmood, cautioning him against exhibiting bias against Atiku Abubakar, the leading opposition candidate, at Saturday’s presidential election.
In the letter dated February 11, 2019 and copied to the United Nations, United States embassy, High Commission of the United Kingdom and European Delegation in Nigeria, The United Nigeria Group (TUNG) called Professor Mahmood’s attention to credible allegations that had been circulating online, pointing out his personal bias in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari, and describing ways in which the INEC chairman stands to gain if the elections go in the incumbent’s favour.
“Because these allegations are so weighty, it becomes necessary that we bring them to your notice so you may be aware and then abstain from any acts that may eventually corroborate them,” Dr Emenena Bright, who signed the letter on behalf of the group said.
“We are optimistic that you will stay on the side of the citizens to ensure an improvement on the 2015 elections, that our democracy may not only be sustained, but shall be deepened.”
The letter quoted copiously from a Twitter thread authored by public affairs commentator, Prof Farooq Kperogi, and titled “ATIKU’S FIERCEST FOE ISN’T BUHARI, IT’S THE INEC CHAIRMAN”.
“At this point, Buhari isn’t a threat to Atiku, INEC Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu is actually Atiku’s most potent threat now,” Kperogi wrote.
He went on to give reasons for his convictions, relating a conversation he had with a close friend of Mahmood’s brother.
“[He] confided in me today that the electoral boss has a deep- seated animus toward Atiku and has made many nasty, unkind remarks about Atiku in private. That, in and of itself, is not the problem. We are all entitled to our personal predispositions and biases as long as they don’t interfere with our judgement on occasions that invite our neutrality and fair mindedness.
“However, the same source told me the INEC Chairman has a profound personal investment in APC’s electoral successes, like Maurice Iwu had of PDP’s victories. He said the INEC Chairman told his friend that he was going to hand victory to APC in Osun governorship election even though PDP clearly and handily won it.”
Kperogi concluded his lengthy piece by conceding that INEC has taken many admirable actions in the past few months that point to some degree of independence. He, however, expressed concern that these actions may simply be “window-dressing to conceal plans for the grand presidential electoral heist on February 16”.
The United Nigeria Group made it clear in the letter to the INEC chairman that the group was not going to swallow Kperogi’s allegations hook, line and sinker—but felt it necessary to bring the allegations to Mahmood’s attention and also caution him in case there might be any element of truth in them.