SINCE the announcement broke of his appointment as the new Chairman of INEC, I have tried to remember how we became friends with Professor Mahmood Yakubu. Walahi, I cannot recall, despite my well-known ability to recall dates and events up to the exact day! But from the time I was the General Manager of KWTV in Ilorin, during the late 1990s, I would regularly drive into Kaduna to see the lady that eventually became my wife.
It became a routine that the first place of call, as I drove into the city, was the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), where MahmoodYakubu was a professor. A very decent, modest and most committed intellectual, he kept in the backyard of his residence a sizeable collection of Guinea fowls, that he was very devoted to.
I would go with him to see his ever-growing collection of birds, and his devotion to them, as much as his devoted service as an intellectual could not have been missed. His example triggered my decision to eventually start a farm that will also keep Guinea fowls too.
The second experience of the man that I never stop recalling was from 2004. There was an international conference to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Sokoto Caliphate. Mahmood Yakubu was one of the central figures in the organisational work that made the event an incredible success. I was Editor of DAILY TRUST, and the conference offered an opportunity for interviews, including a very extensive one, with the late Professor Ade Ajayi.
The third phase of his work that I recall was as head of the Education Trust Fund (ETF), which he did with remarkable competence. The final one came last year at the National Conference, where I was also a Delegate. I think Nigeria made a truly appropriate choice, to replace AttahiruJega with MahmoodYakubu, as INEC Chairman!
These are two remarkably decent and principled individuals. AttahiruJega supervised my Masters Degree thesis in Political Science and MahmoodYakubu is a historian and a friend that I know will head INEC with the tenderness and firmness that he tends his Guinea fowls! It is a wise choice by President Muhammadu Buhari. I wish MahmoodYakubu success in a very difficult assignment.