Let it not be Jegajega this time
Written by Odimegwu Odimegwu
Professor Attahiru Jega, the Independent National Electoral Commission's (INEC) umpire has told Nigerians that a total of 120, 000 units of Direct Data Capture Machines (DDCM) were needed for the 120, 000 polling units for the 2011 elections. This was aftermath the N72 Billion was heralded by the media that INEC said it needed, which was later countered by Jega that the amount was computed in error. He said that the amount that INEC needed was N74 Billion. (Let's pray that the INEC under Jega has not started with computing error at this early stage).
While August 11 was said by INEC would be favourable for the demanded money to be released to enable the Commission initiate a procurement process considering the tight timeframe, was it not pusillanimously that a former Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano (BUK) known for his radical activism when he was in the Ivory Tower would accept working under pressure for the elections billed for January next year instead of April or May? Though, out of difficulty comes out miracle, but nothing good has ever come out from hurrying.
Jega's assurance that the Commission will be transparent, accountable and follow the due process, pray that it is not the same sugarmouthed mantra we've known of politicians. Mind you that from that very day in June this year Jega accepted the work as INEC Czar he became a politician.
We have heard politicians in the past talked about all that, but what happened at the end? Did they not dribble our collective intelligence into the mud and brushed our teeth with the sand? We shouldn't be interested in all the hopes that Jega is raising and giving about the 2011 elections, we should be interested in the outcome of the elections, whether it was going to be free and fair in respect to the aspirations of the larger proportions of Nigerians against the mind of the few "cabals".
For instance, Jega's swearing in of 20 new Residential Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in Abuja on Tuesday July 20 is a test tube of what the elections under him might look like. Is it not very disappointing that Jega retained the old functionaries within INEC structures whose handiworks in INEC are still questionable? "How long shall a feverish bird continue to tremble before its owner?" our people would ask.
However, Jega should make sure that enough funds were disbursed to the RECs during the elections proper, to devoid them from going to the governors of the states of their postings for fund. Please, read Mr. Donald Duke's "How Politicians Rig Elections". Surf the article online if you can't lay your hand on any of the newspapers it was published.
Jega shouldn't play irresponsibility in this elections in his strides owing to his double-tongue of the "N72 Billion been computed in error." What about his contradicting statement that if N55 Billion minimum or maximum of N74 Billion is released would successfully execute the compilation of the voters register?
Notwithstanding, it was the duty of Jega to use "new" persons to achieving this great task of 2011 elections. But, how many Nigerians were not surprised that Jega would continue with the politics of recycling of public office holders as wont in Nigeria which also produced him?
As an activist of reputable records in his days as a university don, Jega should do everything in his coffers that INEC was not compromised with any of the Federal Government's "offerings" even though that we knew that INEC is not independent in the true sense of judgement; INEC is still eating from the kitchen of the Federal Government.
Let's pray that these elections do not rubbish our most cherished Jega, a powerful scholar turned politician in the Nigeria's murky waters of politics. Pray that he stands out to tell politicians that he's an academic and not a politician by calling a spade by its real name and not shovel. He should have it at the back of his mind that Professors Eme Awa (Nigerians say he was good), Humphrey Nwosu (Nigerians are still talking about June 12) and Maurice Iwu (who was till date christened Iwuruwuru) were there before him.
Iwu was crowned the sobriquet because of his alleged shoddy roles in the elections that produced the late President Umar Yar'Adua. Nigerians said that he sold them to the Ottah farmer less than 30 pieces of silver. We pray that things were got right this time. Please, Let it not be Jegajega this time.
Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Author and Media Consultant, is the Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), Rivers State, Nigeria.