The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the Senate is set to block confirmation of the nomination of Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, for fresh five-year tenure by President Muhammadu Buhari, THISDAY’s investigation has revealed.
This is coming just as the National Assembly resumes plenary today after a five-week break during which Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) defended their 2021 budget estimates before the committees of the federal parliament.
Sources told THISDAY yesterday that the PDP senators met at the weekend and took far-reaching decisions, including opposing Yakubu’s nomination.
Buhari had earlier this month forwarded the name of Yakubu to the Senate for confirmation, and President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, is expected to read the letter today at the resumed plenary of the Senate.
A senator told THISDAY that the PDP caucus resolved to lobby their colleagues towards ensuring that the Senate doesn’t ratify Yakubu’s nomination.
The lawmaker who spoke on condition of anonymity told THISDAY that the minority caucus based its rejection of Yakubu’s candidacy on his reported inconsistencies in his first term.
He mentioned, in particular, the 2019 general election, allegedly marred by irregularities leading to INEC saying they had no server only for it to use the server during the Edo/Ondo guber polls this year.
He said: “You could see that under Yakubu’s watch as INEC chairman, there were glaring inconsistencies. At a point, the commission will say one thing, at another point, deny it. An example was during the 2019 general poll in the country when INEC said the server would not be used for the elections only for it to turn round this year and use the same server for Edo and Ondo governorship elections. So, for us in PDP we can’t trust Yakubu with future polls in the country because we believe he can’t guarantee free and fair polls and on this basis we will oppose his re-nomination by the president.”
THISDAY also gathered that the minority caucus also resolved to resist a bill currently before the National Assembly to gag the social media, whenever it is tabled for discussion at plenary.
Other decisions taken by the PDP senators ahead of the resumption of Senate plenary today include giving necessary legislative support for the Electoral Act 2010 Amendment Bill and Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) as well as constitutional reform.
“We will support the timely passage of the PIB and the Electoral Amendment Bill because they are for the betterment of the citizenry as well as the society.
“The PDP caucus is also in support of the review of the 1999 Constitution and will support our colleagues in APC and YPP towards ensuring that the revised constitution is ready by June 2021,” the source added.
The Senate had on October 20 suspended its plenary and adjourned till today to enable its committees to consider the 2021 budget estimates of the federal government.
Lawan had said the break would enable ministers and heads of parastatals to appear before the Senate committees to defend the allocations for the various MDAs in the 2021 Appropriation Bill.