So what is Icheoku saying in essence, - that the gist of election irregularities in Nigeria might not necessarily lie with the heads of such electoral body, but with the crass political class in Nigeria whose mantra is always the end justifies the means; hence their win at all cost mentality of do or die politicking. While wishing Professor Attahiru Jega God's (or Allah) speed and guidance in running the Independent National Elections Commission (INEC), Icheoku cautions that he too may not necessarily have the silver bullet needed to fix a broken electionering Nigerian politics; and may himself be equally consumed by a treacherous political quick-sand that is Nigeria political firmament. Until the political class become more civilized and change their thuggish ways; and start thinking outside the box , may be by year's end next year, Professor Attahiru Jega may become so rubbished by Nigerian politics and politicians, that Nigerians will once again call for his head on a platter; giving credence to Obasanjo's remark that 'not even Jesus could conduct an acceptable elections in Nigeria!" Goodluck to you Jega, congratulation on your appointment.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
ATTAHIRU JEGA, ANOTHER ACADEMIC PROFESSOR FOR INEC?
President Jonathan Ebele Goodluck of Nigeria promised that the candidate who will man INEC will be an acceptable surprise to Nigerians, that he has never met him personally and that he will do a good job chaperoning next years general election 2011. Professor Attahiru Jega it has been revealed, is the promised INEC messianic man of the moment and only time will tell if President Jonathan's optimism was exaggerated or well founded. As for Icheoku, Jega's antecedents are welcoming; except that the disgraced Maurice Iwu was a co-pilot (vice president), in the then Jega led Academic Staff Union activists group wherein he earned his feathers as its principled president? So as a correlative, the only question which now remains is whether the Jega of yesteryears is the same Jega of today; and also whether he will not also be used and dumped in similar unceremonious manner as virtually all his predecessors in office? Good, well intentioned men who became victims of the ever pervasive Nigerian political class who have perfected the art of manipulating elections and election umpires? Such is their dexterity and tenacity to truncate elections that the deity of Otta, Olusegun Obasanjo, was recently forced to comment, rather metaphorically though, that 'even Jesus cannot conduct an acceptable elections in Nigeria?' Boy was Obasanjo right, admitted he was severally called out for that comment; by those busy-bodies 'men of God' who lack proper understanding or discerning ability to see the pun in the statement; since Obasanjo was not deriding Jesus with that comment but merely using His name figuratively to illustrate the apogee and highest echelon of uprightness and forthrightness.
The next question bogging the hell out of Icheoku is, why another professor after all the past history of failed professors who had attempted to educate an unwilling, stubborn, idiotic and uncivilized political class, not amenable to a new political thought process? Why not a priest, a bishop or an imam? Why not an accountant, a lawyer, a doctor, a businessman, a council of Ndi-Ichies, Ulama or even Oyo-mesi? Why not a retired judge or administrator or even a former president or Justice Chukwudiufu Oputa? But the university background which have now also produced Jega is not the problem, except one considers the fact that the same academia environment also produced Eme Awa, Humphery Nwosu, Okon Uya, and Maurice Iwu? Except for Humphery Nwosu's June 12th feat, all the other professors could at best be said to be better theoreticians; than on-hands political doers who accomplished no moss? Also what is it with naming the electoral body, perhaps something inimical that the several names it have born never resulted to anything positive - from Electoral Commission, FEDECO, NECON, and now INEC? What is wrong in just naming it "Elections Agency?" But why bother with semantics, and provided a reasonably acceptable elections can be conducted by it, it does not matter the name it bears that gives Nigeria the much sort after but elusive free and fair elections come 2011?
It is also instructive to note that since the advent of elections in Nigeria, that the north has never produced an umpire of elections prior to this Professor Attahiru Jega's appointment? What another first for a Nigeria in transformation - a northerner appointed for the firs time by a southerner to organise and supervise an election in which the southerner may run against some northerners? Icheoku asks, who said that there is no hope for there to emerge someday, a more functional Nigeria where tribes and religion rather galvanizes than divides the polity? Post independence federal and regional elections of 1964 and 1965 were conducted under the electoral chairmanship of Eyo Esua from then Eastern region, now South-south Cross River State. The 1979 second republic government of President Shehu Shagari was chaperoned by Michael Ani, also from south-south Cross River State, led FEDECO. In 1983 Justice Victor Ovie-Whiskey from then Bendel State, now south-south Delta State took over FEDECO and conducted the elections which ushered in Shagari's short lived second term, aborted by the Muhammadu Buhari's military coup of the same year in December 1983. Professor Eme Awa, from South-East Abia State took over in 1987 but had enough conscience to resign when the evil one, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida wanted to use him for some other ulterior purpose to achieve his un-saintly objectives?
Like the present appointee Attahiru Jega, Eme Awa is also a professor of Political Sceince; and like Ebitu Ukiwe who resigned his 'vice presidency' under Babangida rather than play just "a company-man" role, Professor Eme Awa resigned his office rather than allow himself to be converted into a mere stooge like the disgraced Maurice Iwu cowered in the hands of Obasanjo. Another professor, Humphery Nwosu, from South-East Anambra State was appointed to replace Eme Awa in 1989; and he had the singular privilege of conducting the freest and fairest election ever held in Nigeria which produced the June 12th election won by MKO Abiola but which was wickedly annulled by the evil one, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. To Humphery Nwosu's credit were also the enviable Option A4 and Open Ballot System. In 1993, one Professor Okon Uya from South-south Akwa-Ibom State became the chairman of the electoral body; followed by Sumner Dagogo-Jack from south-south Rivers State in 1994. Mr. Dagogo-Jack was succeeded by Justice Ephraim Akpata from South-south Edo State in 1998 who midwifed the third republic of Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999. He was succeeded by Abel Guobadia also from south-south Edo State in 2000 who ushered in Obasanjo's second term in 2003..Then enter the disgraced Professor Maurice Iwu from South-east Imo State in 2005, whose conduct of the 2007 elections was so flagrantly below par that even its beneficiary-in-chief, the late president Umaru Yar'Adua, admitted that the election which brought him to office was greatly flawed. But unlike Professor Eme Awa or Ibitu Ukiwe, Maurice Iwu lacked the decency to call it quits when Obasanjo was unseasonably pulling his puppet's strings, but was disgraced out of office by being sacked with few months remaining in his term? Also unlike Humphery Nwosu, Maurice Iwu lacked the courage to stand up to his master and declare the real result, instead of the prepared one which he was forced to read out as the real deal.
So with the litany of southerners who have chaired the electoral body and the concomitant election flaws which followed, Icheoku asks, may be it is about time another part of Nigeria, the north, is tried in that chair? Also will it be fair to argue that all these circumstances considered, it is safe to argue that the south has failed Nigerians in conducting credible elections that could withstand muster? However, in deference to the Yoruba South-west, no Oduduwa son or daughter has ever sat on that seat; leaving the present South-south and South-east solely responsible for all the failed elections which Nigeria had been bedeviled with since independence? Such a position would have been a fair argument except that Humphery Nwosu, a southerner, produced the benchmark June 12th Abiola election. Also Eme Awa had to resign rather be shackled and not allowed to conduct a free and fair elections; and he is also a southerner.
FYI:- On one funny note, www.icheoku.com reiterates the so much touted "scoop" by the Nigeria's Vanguard newspapers on "the appointment of Buhtari Mohammed as the new INEC chairman to succeed maurice Iwu?" Needless to say events have since proved it a hoax; and you wonder who their editors are, knowing that they should not have swallowed such a bait so foolishly and so quickly. Hopefully they will retract the said story and apologise to their readers for such a buffoonery of journalism.