Why Jega Should Be Fired


-By Lloyd Ukwu-

Before the postponement of the presidential election scheduled for February 14, 2015 to March 28, 2015, the chairman of the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega told Nigerians that INEC was prepared to conduct the election. And Nigerians believed him. In his speech to postpone the election, he reiterated INEC’s readiness, and blamed the postponement on the security chiefs that could not guarantee security for the elections. But, with time, it was uncovered that INEC was ill-prepared, and could not have conducted a credible election on February 14, 2015. Why was Jega lying to Nigerians and the international community? While we may not accurately decipher his motives, it is clear that he is dishonest and incompetent, and deserves to be relieved of his job.

As he had said repeatedly in the past, on February 5, 2015 (9 days before the election), in his presentation to the National Council of State, Jega insisted that INEC was set for the elections (National Assembly and Presidential) scheduled for February 14th, 2015, and the state elections (Governorship and State Assembly) scheduled for February 28th, 2015. He said, “Our level of preparedness, despite a few challenges, is sufficient to conduct free, fair and credible elections as scheduled on February 14th and February 28th. Compared with 2011 when we conducted general elections that were universally adjudged free, fair and credible and the best in Nigeria’s recent electoral history, our processes are today better refined, more robust and therefore capable of delivering even better elections.”

Not surprisingly, many Nigerians, in their belief of his repeated protestation of INEC’s preparedness,were dismayed by the postponement of the election. They blamed the National Security Adviser and the security chiefs, and by extension, the Goodluck Jonathan administration for arm-twisting Jega into rescheduling the elections. In his speech announcing the postponement, Jega blamed it on,“the advisory from the National Security Adviser and all the Armed Services and Intelligence Chiefs, unanimously, stating that the safety and security of our operations cannot be guaranteed, and that the Security Services needed at least six weeks within which to conclude a major military operation against the insurgency in the Northeast; and that during this operation, the military will be concentrating its attention in the theatre of operations such that they may not be able to provide the traditional support they render to the Police and other agencies during elections.” And, as such, he had no choice, but to respect the advice of the Security Chiefs and adjust the dates of the elections.

It, later, became obvious that INEC was not, at all, prepared to hold the presidential election on February 14, 2015. As of that day, in many parts of the country, only 50 percent of the registered voters have received their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC), and INEC was yet to distribute over 23 million PVCs.  Secondly, more than 1million PVCs had not been printed by Chinese contractors in China; thoughtless of their being delivered to INEC in Nigeria. In addition, the Card Readers that will be used for the accreditation of voters were yet to be tested. It was three weeks after the adjustment of the dates of the elections that INEC started testing the Card Readers.

Shifting the date of the election was most splendid. Holding the presidential election on February 14, as earlier scheduled, would have been a disaster: more than 24 million Nigerians (the 23million registered voters that did not collect their PVCs and the 1 million whose cards had not been printed) would have been disenfranchised. The card readers, without having been tested and fine-tuned, would have proven most ineffective. The election could not have been credible.

Why was Jega not concerned about these factors that would have disenfranchised about one-third of the entire registered voters, marred the elections and left Nigerians bickering and warring amongst themselves? Why was he lying and rushing to hold the elections in February, despite INEC’s lack of readiness. Nigerians can only speculate on Jega’s real purpose and objectives. However, a number of facts are readily evident: he is incompetent and dishonest. After the 2011 election, he had four years to prepare for the 2015 election. But for his incompetence, it was enough time to print the PVCs, distribute them to voters and handle all the necessary logistics for the 2015 general election. It must have taken a pathological liar to lie, brazenly, as he did to the National Council of State, the Nigerian public and the international community. He must be a very insensitive and duplicitous man to have blamed the National Security Adviser, Defence Chiefs and Goodluck Jonathan administration for the postponement of the elections.

Attahiru Jega deserves to be fired immediately from his job. As there is very little time left before the elections, the president should circumvent the constitutional demands of removing an INEC chairman, and suspend him from office . And then, appoint a new INEC chairman from amongst the INEC commissioners – a dependable, honourable and competent man – that will conduct a credible, free and fair election.

Lloyd Ukwu, an international lawyer, writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

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Lloyd F. Ukwu, Esquire
Barrister & Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria

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Source: TheNigerianVoice