Let me start with a confession. It is very difficult for me to write about Professor Attahiru Jega’s INEC. Jega was my teacher, who also supervised my Master’s Degree thesis. I respect him a lot because he has always been a man of remarkable discipline and integrity. I was still at DAILY TRUST when he was named Chairman of INEC and collectively and as a columnist for the newspaper, we had effusively supported him. This background made it difficult to be critical of Jega’s INEC, in the manner I was, for example, under Professor Maurice Iwu. We were fixated with his role as ASUU President during the military regime of General Babangida, so we have not sufficiently interrogated the glaring failures under ‘our man’, Jega. I plead guilty to that fact.
But the “inconclusive” AnambraState gubernatorial election has brought us to a denouement. INEC’s conduct is clearly incompetent and unacceptable! This was an election we knew was coming, not least INEC itself. So how could they have bungled it so badly? In response to INEC’s failure in Anambra, a perceptive observer on an internet forum early this week, noted that there is a trend that should worry us. By all accounts, the Delta Central Senatorial election held last month, he noted, was a sham.
Even though no one could have predicted the senator’s death, there ought to be contingencies for inter-cycle elections in any term. There was also the bye-election for a seat in the Imo State House of Assembly in Oguta, which remains inconclusive more than five months after. The portents for nation-wide elections in 2015 are frightening! Yet another person reminded that India organises elections for an electorate of 600 million; and because they run a parliamentary system, they could call snap elections anytime.
The electoral body gets its act together regularly! In response, someone added out that these things happen because we have an INEC leadership that we all indulge, especially because it is led by one of our own. The best way of supporting ‘one of us’ is to tell him the truth, as we perceive it!
In truth there is a trend of incompetent bungling that should worry all of us. There was the incompetent voters registration which returned names like Mike Tyson, Bill Clinton, etc, on the electoral roll; that incompetence was affirmed on the aborted first day of the 2011 elections.
The bungling was brought into sharp focus at the resumption of the elections and ever since we have been at the receiving end of what another contributor described as “a glaring trail of unsurprising incompetence and waste aided and abetted by an aberrant National Assembly and equally deplorable overindulged courts”.
The problem has arisen and persisted, according to this observation, because “we are too ready to accommodate rubbish and because of his (Jega’s) ‘reputation’”. He concluded that: “We consistently make the elementary error of judging action by reputation rather than reputation by action.
Reputation is not immutable; not even Vicky’s”! On the road to 2015, we have reached that juncture where we must ask very hard questions and join Daddy Showkey, the musician to implore Nigerians: “SHINE YOUR EYES WELL, WELL”! INEC has become a veritable danger to acceptably free and fair elections in Nigeria!