18th February, 2015
Some highly placed Nigerians, blinded by their personal interest and the interest of a few of their cronies and benefactors, are striving hard to derail the country’s democracy. The recent call by some well-known supporters of President Goodluck Jonathan for the sack and prosecution of Professor Attahiru Jega, the Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, should be seen as an attempt to scuttle the ongoing elctoral process that would culminate in the election of a new president and other public office holders.
Nigeria, since 1999, had appointed different chairmen of INEC. And Jega has been widely acclaimed as one of the few chairmen who had conducted what could be described as close to a free and fair election. He achieved this in 2011 in the same election that featured the current two most prominent presidential candidates, President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
It is worthy of note that during the 2011 elections, those now calling for Jega’s head sang his praises to high heavens and never accused him of a sectional agenda. Then suddenly, a team which calls itself the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly led by Chief Edwin Clark, and comprises former Minister of Information, Walter Ofonagoro; a former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chuwuemeka Ezeife; a former commissioner in Bayelsa State, Chief Whisky Ayakeme; Dr. Cairo Ojugboh and Senator Femi Okurounmu, have begun to demand for the sack of Jega with an argument that he had already started rigging an election yet to be conducted in favour of a particular candidate.
Need we say that it is generally believed that either these people are being influenced by the presidency or that they are the ones influencing the presidency. How else can one describe their call for the postponement of the election to allow the Federal Government reposition INEC and the rumoured moves to oust Jega and substitute him with a “yes” man?
The group had even threatened that if their demands, which included the arrest of Jega over allegation that he criminally masterminded the procurement of Permanent Voter’s Cards, PVCs, for under-aged pupils in contravention of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Amended and the Electoral Act, 2010, were not met, they would ensure that the people of the South-West, South-South and South-East boycot the elections.
As if this was not enough, former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, called for Jega’s resignation because he believes he is too arrogant to occupy the office of INEC chairman and as such, he had failed. And Yinka Odumakin as well as Tony Nyam under the aegis of the Transition Resurgent Group, also called on the Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, to commence prosecution of Jega for allegedly colluding with some northern elements to rig the election.
Recall that Ezeife had last year controversially claimed that Nigeria would break up if President Goodluck Jonathan was not re-elected. Also recall the leaked audio recording that featured how Obanikoro and others used the military against members of the APC in the Ekiti governorship election with the result being the emergence of Ayo Fayose as the winner. Obanikoro denied any involvement but the Minister of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan, has reportedly admitted the authenticity of the leaked audio recording but said the meeting was not held to rig the election. Nigerians should continue to demand for democracy to thrive and watch out for those whose plan is to truncate a system that was won through the blood of the masses.