Jega’s Election And The Japanese Court Jester


A new movie From the makers of “CANCELLED” in June 1993 and, “FROM PRISONER TO PRESIDENT” in May 1999 …comes another exciting Blockbuster action Film “THE POSTPONED”…A ‘Must’ Watch… starring Attahiru ‘Logistics’ Jega and other dramatis personae. Special Effects by Bode George…Preview now showing in INEC offices and parts of Japan.

There is rage in the land, following another unplanned somersault, the rescheduled National Assembly elections slated for Monday 4 April was postponed again to Saturday 9 April. Despite the concerns, confusion and shame, Nigerians still remain light-hearted people. We try to see the comical out of the extremely annoying, we play with fuel around places that are highly inflammable and that’s us, the Nigerian spirit.

With almost 600,000 entries in google in a search time of 0.09 seconds, no one would want to be in Jega’s shoes, not even a commendation from Professor Iwu, erstwhile INEC describing him as courageous was comforting or could change the fact that as head of the nation’s electoral body, he had bungled the start of a major election.

Whatever camp one belongs too, whether he apologised or not, he said sorry, was sober or not, incompetence or sabotage, the fact remains that while we were readying to play the penalty the goal post was shifted.

Last week, my column was titled …The Elections Are Here, April Polls Or April Fool? A week before it was ‘The April Polls: It Still Get As E Bi (Many Doubts, Many Hopes). Not that I expected Jega, Jonathan or any INEC staff to read it or be bothered, after all who am I?

However, I am sure even as at 4.00a.m. on Saturday 2 April, very few pastors, imams or prophet could have predicted the turn of events. The president was even allowed to take the flight to his Otueke hometown in Bayelsa only to return to Abuja downcast like myself.

The once upon a confident Jega on Friday, all fools’ day, was telling the press corps, observers, development partners and the world we are ready, and this is an opportunity we cannot afford to bungle, by Saturday 2 April, he was now a face of humility, he was sober, he was apologetic, anyone that knew the real Jega could tell you that something had really gone terribly wrong for the self-confident professor. He was like a bride who was told at the altar that the groom was no longer interested.

Something was wrong…before Jega made his announcement; some state resident commissioners had already taken the initiative. Yet Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola had voted. Voting had also taken place in some states.

‘Who be the vendor’? was the question Nigerians were asking after Jega blamed vendors for failing to supply election materials. Not all Nigerians have access to television, and not all that have equally understood what the man meant by vendor…was it a newspaper vendor; this vendor, (it is a she or a he, a them or they). Wetin concern agbero with overload…The situation in Japan, the aircraft, relief materials, the plane only landed by 9.00am were just a few incoherent explanations that Jega mumbled.

In fact up till the point Jega announced the postponement, many Nigerians were still at the polling unit, unaware of the announcement. At a unit, the voters were lamenting the delay in accreditation because of the early kick-off of the Manchester United Vs West Ham football match in far away London.

Really how much has this postponement cost Nigerians, closed borders, businesses and those persons that earn their living wage daily?

What is the job of the Nigerian Minting and Security Printing Company or Security Printing and Minting, well, someone said they cannot even print a 50 Naira note, so why pay the workers there for doing nothing? Who prints WAEC/NECO questions, is it the same vendor?

Why and how did Jega allow this to befall him? Today even Nigerians that cannot plan wedding receptions, birthday parties or small naming ceremonies are blaming Jega and calling the professor names?

Why are we all asking for the man’s head, how many Nigerians resign, resign for what? Did Iwu resign? Did Obasanjo resign. Ever seen a man spit honey out of his mouth under normal circumstances, more so in Nigeria where circumstances are always ‘normal’?

I am forced to ask however, what really went wrong. They could not have fixed the so-called logistical problem within 24 hours that Jega initially shifted the polls. But the question is, if these sensitive materials or the logistic problems were so much, why was the election not called off earlier? Already, CPC had complained about its logo. When we cannot print sensitive materials by ourselves, how do we expect Japanese, Chinese, Togolese or anyone to be sensitive to us?

Commentators have decried the botched elections because N87.7 billion was invested in it. My argument is, if the money was less than what he requested, he should have messed the election up. I dare say that money does not buy good organisation or planning. It’s about accountability and responsibility on the part of individuals and the institutions under their nose.

Jega, Jonathan are just individuals, INEC is an instution, but democracy is all of us, at least on paper. We need to find our voices and say it as it is. I won’t spare anyone, on this count Jega failed on Saturday, INEC failed, Jonathan as CEO of the naion equally deserves a big knock.

If it all had gone well we would have been hailing Jega, when a team plays badly the gaffer bears the brunt.

I end on the following note…Jega: /n/ je-ga. The act of stupidly wasting the time of a lot of people whilst keeping them under hot sun. E.g. The groom jegaed his bride for a small village girl!

Jega still has the chance to get it right, a good number of Nigerians believe it’s not his fault, he is hostage to a group of cabal, it is because of x, y and z. Whatever the side of the coin, we cannot afford to get this wrong, although the signs are not good but we can exorcise the spirit of failure at least temporarily and get this one right. Best of luck to Jega, goodluck to Jonathan, as we try again, may the right candidates win fair and ill-luck to enemies of Nigeria.


•Prince Charles Dickson is the editor,


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