2nd March, 2011
With exactly one month to the general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is grappling with myriads of problems that we fear may undermine the polls. Two of the major problems the chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, must be losing sleep over are the inability of the Nigerian Security and Minting Company to print the 100 million ballot papers to be used for the election and the 150 cases pending in various courts against the commission.
As was the case in 2007, the Nigerian Security and Minting Company has again failed to deliver on the printing of ballot papers. In 2007, INEC had to rush to South Africa at the last minute to print the ballot papers. This time, three European firms are said to have been approached to handle the printing.
INEC ought to have envisaged this problem and mapped out Plan B to avoid any hitch that could derail its plans. But since it didnâ€™t learn from its past mistake, it has found itself in this dilemma again and now it has to run from pillar to post to seek solution at this 11th hour.
INEC also has its hands full with court cases. At least 150 of such cases are pending in various courts across the country. Most of the law suits are fallouts of the primaries conducted by political parties.
Aggrieved aspirants went to court to seek redress over the substitution of their names with those of their opponents. This albatross INEC is carrying is partly a creation of some unscrupulous judges who, in some cases, granted frivolous injunctions to aspirants who lost the primaries.
INEC must move fast to clear the ominous clouds gathering over the nationâ€™s political firmament. Jega and his team must deploy all the resources at their disposal to wriggle out of the booby traps.
We are deeply worried that at a time INEC oughtÂ to be home and dry in terms of preparation for the polls, it is still trying to untangleÂ itself from the problems that appear insurmountable before the April. Nigerians will settle for nothing other than a free, fair and credible election in spite of whatever INEC is going through now.