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Jega and the limits of latitude

Published by Daily Times on Wed, 11 Feb 2015

Erahodu OsaghaleIf Professor Jega was honest about his oft-repeated and oft-discredited expressions of confidence in the readiness of INEC to conduct free and fair 2015 elections, he would have resigned rather than yet again extending the deadline for collection of PVCs from the initial January 31 to February 8. But since his appointment was ironically an imposition by executive fiat misinformed by his extra-curricular penchant for all-knowing publicity-seeking criticism of any government in power, the professors ineptitude is Nemesis punishing millions of commoners for the excesses of their leaders. It is a typical case of double wahala for Nigerians to have no say on who heads the elections commission and yet be at the mercy of his disenfranchising dithering.Well, even self-righteous academicians with heads in the clouds have no immunity against the humbling impact of stark reality when it dawns. This is what Professor Jega is agonisingly coming to terms with. His obstinacy is in utter disregard of the looming disenfranchisement of over 30 percent of duly registered voters and callous violation of the constitutional provision authoritatively permitting elections to be held even on April 30, not later than 30 days to the end of the incumbents tenure on May 29. An electoral commission that repeatedly vows to conduct free and fair elections has no qualms about shutting the door against millions of registered voters just so that its pet-project PVC/card readers will not back-fire into a Jega-gate!The involvement of an ulterior motive in INECs insistence on February 14 is an issue that has been deliberately diverted from public attention by the Professors hollow assurance of readiness to meet the deadline. Without an ulterior motive, it would be preposterous to have such a magnitude of logistics problems affecting PVC distribution and collection, acceptable resolution of an array of hitches in the voter registration process, recruitment and training of required adhoc staff among others, and yet refuse to make use of the almost two months still within limits to adequately address the challenges.No less intriguing is the contrived reason given by INEC for moving the elections from April to February, which was said to be for giving sufficient time for post-election litigations. Altruistic as this was made to sound, the truth is that INEC has no lawful business with post-election matters, especially when its cup was running over just trying to cope with its statutory functions. It will be interesting to hear Professor Jega going further in his February 14 hang-up to justify INECs concern with post-election litigations over and above the mandatory responsibility of INEC to ensure that all registered voters get the opportunity to vote.The fact that it is the registered voters who are today bearing the brunt for INECs undue pre-occupation with post-election litigations speaks volumes of the genuineness of Jegas expressed commitment to spare no effort in ensuring that every validly registered voter get his / her Permanent Voter Card (PVC) to be able to exercise their franchise in the 2015 General Election as he enthused while receiving the Resident Coordinator of the UN Systems in Nigeria, Dr. Daouda Toure the other day.Registered voters still searching for their PVC will see political tension worsening as every day brings them nearer to the nullification of their right to vote by extra-constitutional intrigues not unconnected with INECs ulterior interest in limiting the time available for them to search and find. Already, the courts are witnessing a flurry of legal actions from frustrated registered voters who cannot understand why INEC should reject the use of the Temporary Voters Cards (TVCs).At the end of the day, Professor Jegas chequered career now stands the real risk of unravelling as a politically-programmed disaster going by the mounting frustration with his incompetence amid widely-believed allegations that the odd endorsement of INECs insistence on February 14 by the APC is the missing link in deciphering the coded complications in the agencys controversial management of the 2015 elections. Should the elections be held against the best interests of all the registered voters, at least Nigerians will know why and who to blame.
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