Monday, March 9, 2015 12:26 pm
Less than three weeks to the rescheduled 2015 general elections slated for 28 March and 11 April for the federal and states elections respectively some desperate persons want him out of office before the election
The phrase “ he came, he saw and he conquered” best describes the story of Prof Attahiru Jega upon his mounting of the saddle as the chairman of the Independent National Election Commission, INEC, in 2010. Precisely on the 8th of June that year, the Political Science Professor and one time Vice Chancellor of Bayero University Kano, was nominated by President Goodluck Jonathan who had just assumed office following the death of late former President Umar Yar’Adua.
His assumption of office as the INEC boss was in a seeming blaze of glory; an erudite scholar, highly principled, well focused and an accomplished academia. His appointment was devoid of the usual controversies usually associated with such appointments in Nigeria and he received a unanimous approval by a meeting of the National Council of State called by President Jonathan which had former heads of state Yakubu Gowon, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Ernest Shonekan, Olusegun Obasanjo and Shehu Shagari in attendance alongside Senate President David Mark, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Dimaje Bankole, and most of the state Governors.
A Breath Of Fresh Air
Jega’s appointment was seen as a breath of fresh air coming closely on the heels of the expiration of the term of office of former controversial INEC boss, Prof Maurice Iwu, who superintended an equally controversial 2007 elections which even the winner, late former President Umaru Yar’adua, acknowledged to have been flawed. His appointment understandably raised expectations that the much desired credibility would return to the nation’s electoral system, and drew positive reactions from a broad spectrum of political leaders and organizations.
He elicited a high degree of excitement among the populace and Nigerians had good reasons to place their hope on the former President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, who famously engaged the military governments of the 1990s in running battles. Jega’s appeal was embraced by all sections of the polity and he was seen as the right man to deliver on the promises of electoral reform which President Jonathan had promised at that time. To many Nigerians, he was a round peg in a round hole, fitted for the tasking job of transforming Nigeria’s electoral system.
The Political Science Professor did not disappoint his admirers as he went on to give a good account of himself at his first outing in the 2011 general elections when he midwifed one of the best elections in the nation’s political history as noted by civil society organizations and foreign election observer groups alike. The election was generally free and fair and even the worst critics of the Jonathan administration acknowledged that it was an important step in the electoral reform process. All these however, was in 2011, some four years ago. A lot had happened since then and the issues at stake are now, apparently more complicated than they were since that 2011 election and the man, Jega, and his balancing skills, are being tasked in many conflicting ways by many conflicting issues with his situation worsened by the very people who emerged beneficiaries of his best efforts four years ago.
Albeit, subsequent elections conducted by the electoral body under Jega’s leadership have raised questions about the man, his capability and his conduct as the nation’s chief electoral umpire. His reputation and integrity are increasingly becoming doubtful as political actors and stakeholders attempt to outdo the others in bandying accusations and counter accusations against the Professor and his official conducts.