Wednesday, April 6, 2016 8:55 am
Former chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, has received a nomination from Chatham House for successfully overseeing what has come to be known as Nigeria’s most credible elections since 1999.
Jega, a professor of Political Science, exuded much professionalism in the election that got the All Progressives Congress, APC, then opposition party in Nigeria, winning the centre as well as many states of the federation.
The party also currently has the majority in the National Assembly thus relegating the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which had ruled since 1999, to the background.
Chatham House, also known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs and founded in 1920 to engage governments, the private sector, civil society and its members in open debate and confidential discussion on the most significant developments in international affairs, said Attahiru Muhammadu Jega “is nominated for his professionalism, determination and integrity as chairman of Nigeria’s electoral commission, which, in 2015, ensured the conduct of Nigeria’s most credible election since the country’s return to civilian rule in 1999.”
Other nominees include Laurent Fabius and Christiana Figueres for their pivotal role in delivering a global climate agreement at the COP 21 meeting in Paris in December 2015 and John Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif both “nominated for their crucial roles, throughout 2015, in successfully negotiating the historic nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1.”
Jega, it would be recalled braced the heat of the 2015 tension-soaked election and shrugged off a lot of pressures from desperate politicians whose parties were in the race for the presidential and governorship elections.
On several occasions leading to the election, he was accused by top officials of the PDP of being partial, but never bulged.
He refused to seek a second term in office in spite of pleas by Nigerians.
Since he retirement from INEC, the professor from Kebbi State has received many international awards including being the winner of the 2015 edition of the Charles T. Mannat Democracy award organised by the US-based International Foundation for Electoral Systems, IFES.
He was honoured alongside US Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Ed Royce.
“He (Jega) deserves full credit for his efforts to increase the credibility and transparency of the electoral process under extreme logistical challenges, such as terrorist threats from Boko Haram, where failure could prove the catalyst for predicted election violence, IFES had said of the reason for the honour.
Also in October 2015, Jega was honoured with two international awards, the 2015 Charles Manatt Democracy Award by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, in Washington and an integrity award by US-based Nigerian Higher Education Foundation at Waldorf Astoria, New York for his role in the 2015 general election.
While receiving the award, Jega said he was humbled “and will also like to recognise my colleagues at INEC for their dedication to a credible and transparent electoral process.
“Over the last five years, we’ve come a long way in the conduct of elections in Nigeria, and I think the outcome of the 2015 elections speak directly to this work.
“All my colleagues at INEC share the credit for this success. The mood in my country presently is extremely upbeat, following the first democratic transfer of power in our history.”
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