Outrage As Jega Worsens Election Uncertainties

Attahiru Jega

INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega

Jamiu Yisa

Outrage has continued to trail the statement by Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, that he could not guarantee that the 2015 general elections would hold on rescheduled dates in March and April.

Jega on Wednesday told the Senate that only the Service Chiefs could guarantee the sanctity of the rescheduled polls in view of the security challenges facing the country.

Jega, who was grilled for about four hours by the Senate on INEC’s preparedness for the elections as well as the effectiveness of the use of card reader for the accreditation of voters, affirmed that the commission was ready to conduct credible, free, fair and transparent elections.

He, nevertheless, confessed that the postponement of the election had offered the commission the opportunity for extra preparation.

Speaking on the development, Secretary of The Coalition of Oodua Self Determination Groups (COSEG), Rasak Olokooba, stated that Nigerians will not take the issue of another election shift lightly.

According to him, the first shift in election was an abberation hence there is no room for another postponement.

Olokooba stated that the INEC boss’ statement has created confusion in the minds of Nigerians.

“We don’t know where he belongs now, whether on the people’s side or that of the government. Saying the security agencies will determine whether election will take place is like abdicating his official postition and ceding his power to security agencies,” he said.

Human right activist and public commentator, Richard Akinola, posted on his facebook page that as part of the moves to scuttle next month’s election, the hawks have resolved to use the June 12 template, by sponsoring a plethora of cases.

“Two of such cases would be filed in the next few days. One is for the proper interpretation of section 135(2) of the 1999 Constitution, which allows for the election to be postponed to six months if the country is at war. The second is to stop INEC from using the card reader for the election. These are apart from the various cases filed against the candidature of Buhari. Interesting times lie ahead,” Akinola stated.

The executive chairman of The Committee for the Protection of Peoples Mandate (CPPM), Nelson Ekujumi, also condemned the statement by Prof Jega that the conduct of the 2015 general elections is dependent on security in the north east.

He described it as unconstitutnal, irresponsible, undemocratic and an abdication of the constitutional responsibility of INEC which is empowered to conduct elections by the Electoral Act.

“We reject this statement in its entirety and call for a retraction as well as an apology to Nigerians for this assault on democracy,” he averred.

Director, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) Professor Ishaq Akintola, in a statement made available to P.M.NEWS, joins other well-meaning Nigerians, true patriots and genuine democrats to warn against the diabolical plot to extend the tenure of the current administration, describing it as nothing short of a coup against the people of Nigeria and a sabotage of what Rousseau called the General Will.

“With the exemption of a few bootlickers and court jesters, Nigerians are eager to vote come March 28 and April 11. It is rather unfortunate that the Presidency seeks to uphold Napoleon Bonaparte’s postulate that the only lesson which men learn from history is that they learn nothing from history. Or how else can we describe the present maneuvers from Nigeria’s seat of power against the backdrop of the June 12 imbroglio and the subsequent chaos that dragged Nigeria back by several decades?

“Without the fear of contradicting the Hegelian thesis that history always repeats itself, we hasten to remind President Jonathan of the Marxist antithesis adjudging the first repetition of history as a tragedy and the second, a farce.”

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INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega
INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega

MURIC appeals to President Jonathan not to prove cynics right, adding that the excuse given for postponing the election (security) was dismissed by many as a ruse.

“It will be too bad if this plot is true. It had better not be. It is not the winners of elections or their losers that emerge heroes among leaders but those who are most adaptable to change, those who play the game according to the rules, those who respect the rule of law, those who choose honour and integrity and those who shun the tempting songs of power.

“We charge members of the NASS to stand on the right side of history where their names will be written in letters of gold. We remind the honourable members that whereas the courage to sell one’s conscience is cheap, the will to take a principled stand is worth a governor’s ransom.

“If it is true that President Jonathan has repeatedly told Nigerians that March 28, April 11 and May 29 are sacrosanct, then we must not be hearing this type of rumour. We invite Mr. President to fear God, the source of all power. To prove that he is a true Christian, President Jonathan must keep faith with Numbers 30:2 where the Bible says, ‘When a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds from his mouth’.

“To be or not to be? That is the question. Whether President Jonathan is prepared to prove to Nigerians that he is a good Christian and therefore worthy of the responsibility of leadership of about 170 million Nigerians will be largely tied to his readiness to keep a date with the March 28, April 11 elections and the May 29 inauguration,” he stated.

The South West Independent Campaign Organisation(SWICO), in its reaction, asked the INEC boss to go ahead with the rescheduled elections or resign his appointment as the military has no role in the conduct of elections.

The SWICO Director General, Moses Olafare and Director of Media and Publicity, Gbenga Soloki while speaking with P.M NEWS, maintained that the elections should go on as planned if INEC is truly prepared.

According to SWICO, “the response of the INEC boss is uncalled for and diversionary. Prof. Jega has consistently maintained the preparedness of the commission until yesterday (Wednesday) when he shocked the world by passing the buck to the service chiefs who in any sane clime do not have any role in conduct of elections. It is either INEC is unprepared or its acting a script by the presidency and the service chiefs to truncate this democratic process.”

Also speaking, a member of the House of Representatives, James Abiodun Faleke, advised Nigerians to remain vigilant.

“This is a critical period in the country’s march to enduring democracy. The ruling party knows it is going to lose the election. That is why it is employing all forms of tricks to scuttle the election which I know they will not succeed.

Nigerians should just remain vigilant and work towards a peacefful election,” Faleke, also coordinator of the Buhari/Osinbajo Campaign Organisation in Lagos, said.

The APC candidate for the Mushin Federal Constituency 1 in the House of Representatives, Taofeek Adeyemi Alli, said INEC is the organ charged constitutionally to organise elections in the country.

“If the INEC Chairman now comes around and says he could not deermine whether election will take place or not, then the signs are not encouraging at all and we should all come together and ensure that the right thing is done,”  said Alli, former Chairman of Odiolowo/Ojuwoye Local Council Development Area.

Also speaking on the issue, APC candidate for Surulere Federal Constituency 2 in the House of Representatives, Hakeem Adisa Bamgbola, stated that elections coming up on 28th March and 11th April should remain sacroscant.

“When the elections were first shifted, Nigerians took it in good faith and saw it as a sacrifice they must make to instal a just government. Another postponement now should not be entertained. The international community is watching us and we should not do things that will continue to ridicule us,” Bamgbola, former Chairman of Itire/Ikate Local Council Development Area, said.

The Executive Secretary of Odiolowo/Ojuwoye Local Council Development Area, Rasak Olusola Ajala, advsied Nigerians to remain calm but be vigilant.

“At this point in time, we should all remain calm but vigilant. I think there is a hidden agenda to scuttle this election but we must not allow it to happen,” he said.