Ekiti and Osun Elections: Prof Jega On My Mind By Erasmus Ikhide
IF you ever thought that one smart, educated person cannot change the world, then you need to consider the life of former South Africa President – the late Nelson Mandela – a man who has suffered the slings of arrows of cruel apartheid regime upon a national stage at the level of a Shakespearian tragedy and triumphed. Also, an individual can ruin the fortune of his country just the same way unpatriotic acts have brought down nations.
But due to the zeitgeist of our time and the electoral robbery in Nigeria, we had hoped the like of Prof Attahiru Jega would make the utmost difference and right the electoral wrongs the nation has been made to suffer in the hands of pure Machiavelli agent like Prof Maurice Iwu. Many elections conducted under the watch of Prof Jegga have proved the confidence we invested in him is gross misplacement of the people’s honest quest for change.
Prof Jega’s “Cult of Personality” which he cultivated as the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU which paved the way for his present appointment as the Independent National Electoral Commission’s Chair has dwindled. “Cult of personality” has both positive and negative ends because of the individuals who have had success with either noble or evil ends. But Prof Jega must prove he is not a “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”, according to Winston Churchll.
Historically, both the infamous and famous have been described as having a “Cult of Personality.” for example, both Adolf Hitler and Franklin D. Roosevelt are considered to have projected great energy, mesmerising their audiences. In case you don’t know, “cult of personality” is the quality associated with and exhibited by a leader that mesmerises those they meet by projecting a powerful inner energy, no matter what position or condition they found themselves.
Haven read much about Roosevelt and Hitler, I found similar “cult of personality” attributes associated with Franklin D. Roosevelt firmly in the person of Prof Attahiru Jega in my first encounter with him in Lagos, just before his appointment as INEC henchman. You could easily and instantly peered into his soul and see goodness in Prof Jegga’s heart and discern every nuance of values, virtues and vanity as you listen to his compassionate and patriotic stance on the nation’s developmental politics, including INEC.
Prof Jega has the attribute of bringing to bare the quality and strength of his being through rigorous interrogations on issues that border on national development that one was tempted to think that he was the Franklin Roosevelt of our time. It’s worthy of note that American politicians who become president of US must, as a matter of necessity, service their county and states before becoming president. It was that climatic witticisms on that occasion that endeared Prof Jegga eternally to me as a pantheon-saint of our national conscience.
This has nothing to do with becoming the president of our dear country. After all it’s not everyone who has garnered “cult of personality unto himself that becomes president of their country. It appeared to me that Prof Jega didn’t do thorough self-exploration sufficiently – if at all he ever did – before taking his present appointment as the INEC goal keeper. I am sure to date, Prof Jega is till drawing from the proudest, and act of great human activism that sent primitive dictator like IBB to “Step Aside” at the zenith of his evil rule.
Now, I doubt that Prof Jega is competently informed on the issues that affect the people served by the office he holds. If he depend on the plain old dumb luck as we have it at the presidency, then Nigeria can go up in smoke with greater chaos as the people of Ektiti and Osun match towards the polling stations to elect their Governors. There is the need to drum this into Prof Jega’s ears that flip-flopp on critical policy decisions or representing yourself as someone having values that you do not is the development politics of old, not the necessary politics of change we all advocate.
Prof Jega has constituted himself into the problem he is expected to solve. One expects that he will heed former US President John F. Kennedy call of “Profile in Courage”, an acts by which public officials who risk tremendous political backlash, even possibly misunderstood, but who, nevertheless, do the right thing.
Nigerians have now known that Prof Jega is no longer himself. He is someone who had been handled and mismanaged to be someone else. This is the least we can say of the former labour activist who did not only fight for the return to democratic rule, but one that celebrates and reverences the sovereign will of the people. Prof Jegga still has the ample chance of redeeming his name and that of INEC which has become a manipulating machine by turning winners to losers.
Prof Jega’s policy statement contradicting his earlier stance that Ekiti and Osun elections will benefit from the card readers chip is unfortunate, to say the least. He has lost the opportunity of escaping the people’s wrath, should the elections go the Anambra State’s way and the others before it. Now, he has demonstrated to Nigerians that the frauds that attended all the elections INEC he has been conducting are simply errors of the heart than errors of the head.
INEC has to reverse that slights and restores Nigeria’s place in the ranks of democratic countries who run their countries through the sanctity of the ballots. The outmoded, analogue and manipulation-prone elections have to give way to thoroughly scrutinised electronic card readers. His conducts of previous elections has upended the major pillar of democracy which is one-person-one-vote.
Electronic card readers is as easy as anyone can imagine. Electronic card reader is a data input that reads data from a card-shaped storage medium. Modern card readers are electronic devices that can read plastic cards embedded with either a barcode, magnetic strip, computer chip or another storage medium. This, if installed, will prevent multiple voting, impersonation, vote manipulation and concocted figure during and after elections.
By blithely shrugging off the importance of electronic card readers, Prof Jega has puts work on the electoral and political stability on indefinite hold. He has utterly sanction electoral robbers to continue to menace voters, thereby throwing darker shadows over the credibilities of the forth coming elections.
It is doable if the INEC czar wants to right the infamy very quickly. The numbers of polling units in Ekiti is 2,195, while that of Osun is 3,100; a little above 5,000 polling units, all together. For wants of reasons, INEC should try electronic card readers in the states as a prelude to the 2015 general elections. Electronic card readers in both states will, at least determine the competence and the desirability of the card readers in subsequent elections. INEC and its pay masters know that if Ekiti and Osun elections are allowed to remain in the fold of opposition the 2015 Presidential election will promptly and decidedly go the same way.
This is one of the reasons INEC has never seized to be a rogue outlier. Prof Jega’s new vision of an ascendant INEC will be dealt a severe and embarrassing blown if he doesn’t reverse to the use of electronic Card readers. This is the position of strength from which he must operate, other than his earlier position of weakness. But Prof Jegga still has all the time to quash his policy summersault, handily.
One thing to note is whether Prof Jega approaches these elections in a way the electorate simply doesn’t grasp, and unmindful of his past, as a patriotic nationalist. He has consistently announced the Commission’s readiness for the conduct of Ekiti and Osun elections, even though he is in denial of it.
“The commission would do everything possible to ensure that the elections are free, fair, peaceful and credible. We have distributed the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and also conducted registration for those who have become 18 years since the last registration. We also conducted registration for those whose details have not been sufficiently captured in the electronic register”, said Prof Jegga.
All this will be efforts in futility if Prof Jega did not also insist on inputing the electronic card readers into the conducts of the two states elections as he did with the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) which, in my estimation, falls bellow standard. I have sufficiently addressed the issue of (CVR) in my earlier piece.
There is only one way out of the elections crises. Wholesale reformation and transformation or total deconstruction and reorganisation is needed. INEC cannot return to the part of moral and ethical rearmament unless the fraudulent channels through which undeserving candidates are flushed unto the seat of power for the governance of our people are checkmated. Electronic card readers is the surest way to preventing elections manipulators from getting away with the acts of snatching the peope’s will. With electronic card readers, manipulators will be prevented even long before such scammers approach the polling booths.
Barring the charge of sounding hawkish, I dare say Prof Jega will be putting a match to the tinderbox if he allows wrongheaded decisions to take better part of him over the electronic card readers. It will amount to testing the resolve of voters’, which will in turn pierce a dagger in the heart of the nation’s nascent democracy.
As tension climbs, in the two states of Ekiti and Osun over electronic card readers, so do pressure mounts ominously against 2015 general elections; thereby breeding a state of paranoia. It’s now clear where Prof Jega plans to steer the ship Ekiti and Osun elections, but it’s not clear where exactly he hopes to anchor them.
Erasmus Ikhide wrote in from Lagos, Nigeria
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