'Jega Is Birthday Gift To Nigerians'


The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) has described the nomination of Prof. Attahiru Jega to head INEC as “a birthday gift by President Goodluck Jonathan as the country celebrates its 50th independence anniversary.”

The NIPR President, Alhaji Muhammed Abdullahi, made the remark in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Bauchi on Wednesday.

The Council of State had on Tuesday endorsed Jega’s nomination for the office.

Abdullahi said: “The nomination of Jega as the new INEC boss by President Goodluck Jonathan is a good birthday gift to Nigeria because he is the type of man Nigerians have been searching for such an assignment.’’

He added: “With this appointment, Jonathan can beat his chest to have fulfilled 75 percent of his promise to Nigerians for an electoral reform that will usher in credible elections and credible leaders in 2011 at all levels.”

The NIPR boss expressed optimism that with Jega on the saddle, ”INEC will scale through as Nigeria’s electoral umpire.’’

Abdullahi added that “it is on record that Jega has never been associated with any form of misdemeanor in his public service, which is a good sign that Jonathan has made the right choice.’’

”With the apprehension and fears being expressed by some Nigerians on the ability of INEC to conduct a free, fair and acceptable elections in 2011, the appointment of a non-partisan and incorruptible radical as the commission’s helmsman is enough license to alley such fears.

”What remains is for Nigerians to give the new INEC chairman the necessary support to enable him organise a credible elections that will change the image of Nigeria in the comity of democratic nations.

”The NIPR is solidly behind the new INEC boss and will put all its public relations resource at its disposal to support him in the discharge of his daunting task of satisfying the yearnings and aspiration of Nigeria for a better tomorrow,’’ he added.

The NIPR president, however, called on the Federal Government to give the new INEC boss a free and unfettered access to discharge his duties to avoid the ugly mistakes of the past.

Abdullahi also called on the new INEC boss to be steadfast and courageous in his new assignment, adding that ”the whole world is now looking up to him as the electoral messiah Nigerians have been yearning for.’’

The Council of State on Tuesday unanimously approved the recommendation by Jonathan, commending the courage he demonstrated in the appointment and describing Jega as someone “who is not known to have any partisan political affiliation.”

Briefing State House correspondents on the appointment, Edo Gov. Adams Oshiomhole said that Jega had distinguished himself in his calling and that the council was satisfied with the nomination.

The council also commended Jonathan on the quality of the 10 people he nominated as national electoral commissioners as well as 18 other resident electoral commissioners, describing the people nominated as men and women of integrity.

In attendance at the council meeting were all the former heads of state, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, Chief Ernest Shonekan, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, retired Maj. Gen. Mohammadu Buhari.

Senate president, three retired justices of the federation, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and many of the governors of the 36 states were also in attendance.

The former Bayero University Kano (BUK) Vice Chancellor, Jega is known as an activist of no mean repute, he served as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) president.

The professor was teaching political science before he became the university’s vice chancellor. He is noted as an astute intellectual with a strong sense of ethics and morality, who couldn’t be compromised even by the military of those days. His tenure as ASUU president still stands him apart.

Jega was the ASUU president, who effectively tackled the military government of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in the late 1990s. Incidentally, when he was ASUU president, Prof. Maurice Iwu was the deputy president of the organisation.

He became the Vice Chancellor of the Bayero University, Kano in 2005. Jega was also a member of the Justice Uwais’ Electoral Reform Committee that produced a widely hailed report, which the government is yet to fully implement. His tenure as vice chancellor is supposed to end in October.

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