Who is Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the man in charge of INEC?

  • Mahmood Yakubu is the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Nigeria.
  • He was born in Bauchi State in May 1962 and had an impressive academic record, obtaining a first-class degree in History from the University of Sokoto.
  • He was appointed INEC Chairman by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 and oversaw the 2019 general elections and the governorship elections in Ekiti, Anambra, Osun, Edo, and other states.

Professor Mahmood Yakubu may be rightly considered one of the most important Nigerian citizens in the last few months.

As the man in charge of mid-wifing the 2023 General elections – an election considered the most keenly contested and campaigned in a long while – he has been the centre of attraction for quite some time.

There have been conversations about what he does, who he visits, and his preferred means of transportation. Even the posts he liked on social media, in recent times, have been reason enough to nail him to a cross.

Considering how much interest he has generated among Nigerians, this week’s profile will be telling you all you need to know about Mahmood Yakubu.

Early childhood and education: A native of Bauchi State, Nigeria, Yakubu was born in May 1962. He attended Kobi Primary School, and the Government Teachers College, Toro, where he obtained the Grade II Teachers’ Certificate in 1980 top of his class.

For his university education, he was admitted into the University of Sokoto (now UsmanuDanfodiyo University) to study History in 1980. He was a Federal Government Merit Award scholar from 1983 to 1985. At the time of his graduation in 1985, he became the first Northern student to have a first-class degree certificate from the department of History. He also won the Waziri of Sokoto Prize for the Best Graduating Student.

He served the mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC)as an academic assistant in the Department of History, University of Jos, from 1985 to 1986. After this, Mahmood enrolled at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom in 1986 with the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Scholarship and obtained a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) degree in International Relations in 1987.

Mahmood went on to study Nigerian History for his Doctorate at Oxford University in 1991, demonstrating brilliant academic performances all the way. Such a scholar he was, that he won the Commonwealth Scholarship from the Association of Commonwealth Universities, in addition to the Overseas Research Scholarship three times, and the Beit Fund Research Grant. And all of these, before he even clocked 30 years.

A scholar’s dream career: Upon his return to Nigeria in 1992, Mahmood Yakubu went back to the University of Jos to resume as Lecturer I. He soon rose to the rank of Senior Lecturer and moved to the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna in 1993. Mahmood attained the rank of Reader in 1995 and Professor in 1998 at the age of 36.

At the NDA in Kaduna, he wore different hats. Yakubu was Head of the Department of History from 1994 to 1995, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Director of Academic Planning from 1998 to 2000, Member of, the Armed Forces Selection Board from 1998 to 2003, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences for a second time from 2002 to 2004, Chairman, Management Board of the Staff School from 2004 to 2006 and pioneer Dean, Post Graduate School in from 2004 to 2006.

Professor Yakubu is not only a lecturer and Professor of Political History and International Studies, he is a guerrilla warfare expert, courtesy of his time at the Nigerian Defence Academy. As an educator and professor, he has more than 50 publications to his name.

From 2006 to 2007, Professor Yakubu served as the Task Team Leader responsible for tertiary education at the Federal Ministry of Education and a member of the Presidential Technical Committee for the consolidation of Federal tertiary institutions.

Mahmood was appointed by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007 to serve as the Executive Secretary of the Education Trust Fund (ETF) (later renamed Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND). Mahmood Yakubu initiated the establishment of a National Book Development Fund which now supports over 100 journals of professional organisations.

In this position, Mahmood Yakubu served as a member of the Federal Government team on the Renegotiation of the Federal Government Agreement with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) under the Chairmanship of Deacon Gamaliel Onosode.

He was also a member of the Presidential Task Team on Education, the Committee on Presidential Scholarship for Innovation and Development (PRESID), the Implementation Committee on the Presidential Fund for the Revitalization of Nigerian Public Universities, the Ministerial Implementation Committee on the establishment of nine new Federal Universities, the Almajiri Education System and Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Needs Assessment of Nigerian Public Universities.

He served as TETFUND Executive Secretary until higher responsibilities took him into the electoral commission.

Becoming INEC Chairman, and the attendant controversies: Yakubu Mahmood was appointed to the office of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman by President Muhammadu Buhari, on 21 October 2015. He succeeded Amina Zakari, who served as acting chairman. He unveiled a new voting process for the general election of 2019 on January 7, 2019, and was reappointed to serve a second term in 2020.

Yakubu oversaw the 2019 general elections and the governorship elections in Ekiti, Anambra, Osun, Edo, and other states. In the same 2019, elections in seven states – Sokoto, Bauchi, Adamawa, Benue, Kano, Plateau, and Rivers – were declared inconclusive, sparking a chain of reactions in different quarters.

Also, in the Zamfara and Rivers states, Yakubu stood his ground, refusing the All Progressives Congress (APC), from submitting the list of their candidates as they had defied the deadlines due to internal party disputes. The APC filed a lawsuit, but it was rejected.

He is still at the helm of affairs, coordinating the 2023 General elections, which, like many others, has been riddled with controversies and dissatisfaction. The February 25 Presidential elections and the announced results have particularly generated a lot of heat for the commission that Yakubu heads, and even the declared winners. Discontented parties have been encouraged to take the legal path of instituting a lawsuit.

Other positions and achievements: Professor Yakubu was co-opted in 2013 as a technical member of the Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC) on the Presidential Special Intervention Fund for the Revitalization of Nigerian Public Universities and served as Assistant Secretary of Finance and Administration at the 2014 National Conference.

Professor Mahmood Yakubu delivered the convocation lecture at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in 2009 and participated in the Colloquium to mark the 30th Anniversary OlabisiOnabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State in 2013.

He got an honorary fellowship from the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations in 2013. He is also a Fellow of the Historical Society of Nigeria and the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations. Mahmood Yakubu holds a Doctor of Laws (HonorisCausa) from the UsmanuDanfodiyo University, Sokoto, as well as a Doctor of Letters (HonorisCausa) from the Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki and Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma.

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