National Assembly Polls Cancellation


Matters Arising: Jega’s Sack and Resignation

Following the cancellation of the National Assembly Polls while voters were busy casting their votes across the country last Saturday 2nd April many Nigerians have expressed outright disappointment while some are even calling for the head of the Commission’s Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega.

Yes Jega must be blamed for this national embarrassment but do we need to belabour the issue when the man himself has openly accepted every responsibility saying “We have done our best; we have tried everything possible. We have been disappointed. Nobody likes it. We apologise to Nigerians for what has happened. I take responsibility for it because it is a major lapse. But there was nothing that we could have done to prevent this from happening.” Therefore, comments trailing the fallout of the cancellation and the call for his sack or resignation especially from the Federal Government quarters needs to be taking serious and adequately examined.

Prominent Nigerians and several international bodies have called for understanding. The European Union Electoral Observation Mission, (EU EOM) led by the Chief Observer, Alojz Peterle noted “We understand this as an expression to sustain the commitment to conduct credible elections, in particular by providing all technical conditions… the EU EOM encourages political parties to further respect the Code of Conduct. We also encourage the voters, electoral administration, candidates and other stakeholders to maintain confidence and determination towards a peaceful and credible conduct of the polls.”

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) called for calm stating through its Secretary General, Comrade Owei Lakemfa, that “Voters should not be discouraged. Postponement affects all parties and should be accepted. INEC was late in announcing the postponement and must do everything to safeguard materials already distributed.”

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, leader of Action Congress on Nigeria (CAN), one of the major opposition parties in the election said “This is terrible for Nigeria. Ghana conducted an election successfully. The giant of Nigeria cannot conduct a successful election. It is a shame.” Berating the INEC for shoddy preparation, Tinubu insists that given the shortage of materials and lack of adequate preparations by the electoral commission, it was better to postpone it than go ahead with the shoddy polls.”

While the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) through its Executive Secretary, Roland Ewubare, stressed that “Jega’s position as Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission is no longer tenable. He must now step down immediately in the national interest”.

Above statements are quite encouraging except that of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) an agency of the Federal Government. Ewubare’s statement is pregnant with loads of meaning. Who is Ewubare speaking for? Does one need say his master and why the call for Jega’s resignation?

If Ewubare’s statement be analysed it is rather than the cancellation because he, Ewubare is the Executive Secretary of a Federal Government Agency that has nothing to show to Nigerians for their existence since or what can he tell us that his own commission has done in the past to bring glory to the nation. Though it may sound as if one is attacking his personality but that is not the issue, Jega has taken responsibility, for how many of our leaders can be quoted since the beginning of this democratic experiment.

Me think Jega’s mistakes are: His desire to still keep his integrity by always openly admitting as witnessed during the voters registration and errors committed by his commission; His readiness to sacrifice some few bad heads either in the commission or contractors for the sake of majority just like the forced resignation of Aunty Ayoka and her cohorts; His refusal to award contracts without regard to due process and disallowing some established cult from making extra money from the system, and top above all his refusal to tow the path of many Nigerian leaders that would never admit errors or mistakes in the public.

Ewubare and his followers would have preferred Jega continue the aborted election, declare results with or without result sheet, and go to sleep, then allow candidates to proceed to tribunals, challenge the results state by state and the entire process declared illegal like Sonekan’s  regime, leave the country in a precarious situation, and later tow the path of his predecessor by either go into hiding for some years and emerge to publish untold stories or wait for many years when someone else will make a mistake and use that to launch attacks and face savings.

Nigerians must be vigilant in respect of calls for Jega’s sack or resignation. The 1993 saga of Association for Better Nigeria (ABN) should be refreshed. They might be fifth columnist working against the interest of the nation to witness a free and fair election. Ewubare should know better than millions of Nigerians that no one can sack Jega now and his resignation will only lead to only one thing, an indefinite postponement of the election that will only lead to anarchy. Jega’s candour in accepting responsibility for the lapses that led to the cancellation inadvertently caused by the Commission’s vendors should be commended while all hands are on deck to ensure a free and fair electoral process.

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