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Expatriate as INEC boss

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By Emeka Obasi

What we call elections may not pass any test across the border. I hinged all hope on Mahmood Yakubu, a man so exposed to decency and organisation, to change the face of INEC and leave the stage an eternal hero. Unfortunately, everything went awry.

Dee Sam Mbakwe looked at our system in the Second Republic and cried for a return to colonial rule. Many saw that as going too far. Today, I join him in calling for a foreigner to come and rescue us from Fourth Republic politicians.

It is obvious that rigging which is the worst form of Yahoo Yahoo has become the best way to make cool cash in Nigeria. The annoying part is that those who rig are not the thugs we know. They are well educated professors who should lead us to freedom.

I now understand why it is possible for cultists to become millionaires right from school. If some of those we call University professors can encourage arson and looting through electoral malpractice, you can imagine what they teach our undergraduates.

All my years as a student, I came across two professors who influenced me. Professor Philip Igbafe was an authority in Benin History. Professor Francis Agbodeka, a Ghanaian, knew West African History like an Akan would weave kente.

Igbafe did not need your  bribe to pass his course. If you attended lectures, that was all the expo you needed. There was nothing he put on the question paper that he did not tell. And listening to him was like eating Iya Biliki’s amala with Ekaette’s vegetable soup.

Agbodeka’s face was enough to deter you from corruption. He was my Project Supervisor. I never saw him wear more than French suit. The man meant business if you were in the university to read and pass your exams.

Who dared influence Igbafe, who could approach Agbodeka for monkey business? These were distinguished professors who loved name and qualification more than silver and gold. Igbafe was the University Orator and two – time commissioner. Agbodeka was outstanding at the University of Legon.

Professor Fred Omu was in a class of his own. His brother, Paul Omu, had been military governor of South – Eastern State in the Murtala years and when the Army returned in 1983, was in the upper class of administration.

This was not the man you could bribe.

The day I saw Prof. Jacob Ade – Ajayi, I was glad he came to Uniben with his son. Just to deliver a lecture. Prof. Obaro Ikime also visited. Prof. Ayo  Awojobi animated Ugbowo. Then Nigerian professors wrote books, today our professors write election results.

I have given up on elections. I think for a change, we may try the United Nations. I am not talking of sending Observers, the UN should help us with conduct of polls since we have failed woefully as a nation. Nigeria is even worse than countries like Cambodia, Haiti, Congo, Timor – Leste and El Salvador.

It may not be part of the responsibilities of the world body to organise elections in a sovereign country like ours. We can ask for it like Iraqis did in 2020. This pride as Giant of Africa has fallen flat. We are below Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Namibia and Mozambique.

In 1959, the Confederation of African Football ( CAF ) had to use European referees in all matches of the  Nations Cup hosted by Egypt. In the grand finale between Egypt and Sudan, Zivko Bajic of Yugoslavia was in control. He was just one year old as an international referee.

Over half a decade ago, Ghana had to come to Nigeria to hire referees for their FA Cup finals. Nigeria also looked towards Accra for match officials. Sunny Badru handled two grand finale in Ghana. The same Badru was sanctioned by Nigeria after the 1972 Challenge Cup final at Onikan.

Going to Ghana to borrow someone to head INEC is therefore, not a bad idea. I do not think their professors are so much in love with election rigging.  We now may begin to understand why Nigerians are sending their children to Ghanaian universities.

We should not be ashamed to ask for help. In 1958, a Lagosian, Augustus Akiwumi was Speaker of the Ghanaian parliament. They were not ashamed of him and at that time, Nigeria was not independent, our Speaker was a white man.

The United Nations will always respect our global peace keeping contributions. They believed in Major General Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi and made him the first African to head UN forces. Generals Isaac Obiakor and Martin Luther Agwai are heroes.

The United Nations must not wait for Nigeria to burn before sending peace keeping forces. We need intervention in our elections. Many of the Fourth Republic politicians do not mind  turning us to Afghanistan, Syria or Yemen.

Our own Amina Mohammed is Deputy Secretary General of the UN. She could recommend someone from New York. Although she served in the Nigerian government, she is not a professor and her background is not questionable.

If all these fail, we could try African solution. A witch doctor from Semorika or a traditional medicine man from Ugep cannot be bribed like a common professor. Once they swear to an oath, there is no going back.

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