The hawks are beginning to gather again. A few weeks ago, not a few people raised an eyebrow when the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, throttled off to Chatham House in far away England to advise the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, to postpone the general elections, barely three weeks to the commencement of the elections. Despite repeated assurances from INEC that they were ready to give Nigerians free and fair elections, those around the PDP and President Goodluck Jonathan, particularly the high rank of the Nigerian army, took it upon themselves to put measures in place that would undermine the conduct of the February 2015 election.
The election was postponed on the grounds that the Nigerian security outfit would be unable to provide security for INEC and Nigerians during the elections. The Nigerian Army chose the day of the postponed election, 14th February, to begin an onslaught on the Boko Haram insurgency that has been a source of embarrassment, under the current presidency.
Nigerians are aware that it is not the role of the Nigerian Army to conduct nor supervise elections. Nigerians are also aware that elections have been held successfully without major incidences in Anambra, Kano, Ekiti, Osun states and local government elections in Gombe state were safely conducted.
INEC was hounded by the high military command as well as the men around the President. Chief E.K. Clark called for his arrest. Sources alleged that while Regina Omo Agege and Mike Igini (INEC REC) regularly up-date Chief E.K Clark about the workings of INEC and Jega, Dotun Sowemimo and Kayode Ajulo, (Labour Party Secretary and Solicitor to Chief Clark) play the same role in Civil societies organisations.
President Jonathan claimed the security Chiefs did not consult him before they wrote INEC to postpone the elections, giving credence to the widely held suspicion that President Jonathan is not in charge of our nation. It therefore, seems logical why the military high command is bent on keeping President Jonathan, a soft touch they have been able to subdue and conquer, for the purpose of continuing the looting spree that has put the lives of our junior officers at the mercy of the better equipped Boko Haram insurgents.
But the vultures have not yet finished with their sinister plans to thwart the constitutional rights of Nigerians to choose their leaders. The print and the broadcast media are under occupation by those eager to allegedly earn a living by discrediting INEC. They do this by placing the blame for the postponement on the alleged and unfounded plan by INEC to disenfranchise many Nigerians. INEC is adamant all the cards are ready for collection. There is nowhere in the world and certainly not in Nigeria, where such exercise as collection of cards would yield a 100% success. The reality is that those who have died since 2011, those who are in hospitals or sick at home, some of those who have lost faith in Nigerian politicians and have become apathetic as well as the fake names used to dubiously populate the voters register, will never collect their cards. The role of INEC is to make the cards available for collection, not to enforce its collection.
Now, another Retired military officer, Ahmadu Ali of the PDP, has flagged off a massive media coordinated attack on INEC’s state of preparedness with a view to exonerating the Nigerian security forces of all blames regarding the postponement of the election and sell a devious discrediting of the Card Reader. It is therefore, not hard to see the desperation of certain interest groups around President Jonathan and the President himself, as they fight hard to ensure that the Card reader is not utilised for this particular election. The easiest way to achieve this is to get rid of the chairman of INEC. We are still not convinced that there are no plans to either sack Prof. Jega or force him to resign, an action that is capable of throwing the electoral commission into chaos, so close to the election.
But the main issue for those plotting to truncate this democratic process is the new CARD READER. Having tried to find a way around the Card reader, PDP now wants to take us backwards by recommending the use of the Temporary Voters Cards side by side the PVCs, which has in-built mechanisms to minimise the incidence of rigging thereby, conferring on the election, fairness and credibility. The perceived determination of INEC to proceed with the use of the PVC and its reader is at variance with the desires of those who seek to perpetuate their hold on power over the Nigerian people.
They are also now claiming they had never seen the Card Reader. But the truth remains that INEC had demonstrated how the equipment works, in one of its monthly meetings where all the registered political parties had representatives in attendance. They alleged that INEC claimed that the Card Readers cannot fail. On the contrary, the Commission has since discussed and agreed remedial measures in the event of machine failure with ALL registered political parties. INEC has also discussed and agreed on fallback plans at a meeting with ALL registered political parties, should the card reader fail. INEC has trained enough people on the use of the card reader and assured political parties of extra card readers within each Ward.
It’s instructive to note that in recent times, the Card reader was instrumental to the free, fair and credible elections held in Ghana, Kenya and Sierra Leone and that INEC offered supervisory and technical support on the use of the card reader in Sierra Leone.
On Tuesday, 11th of February, 2015, the Representatives of the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU), in a meeting with General Buhari, asked the stakeholders in the Nigerian electoral process to ensure compliance to constitutional provisions for conduct of the general elections. In General Buhari’s response he stated that our expectations are very clear as INEC has played its last card and that is the limit. He added that on the 28 of March, there must be election and it is up to the government to ensure that the election is free, fair and credible.â€ We stand by this statement by General Buhari as we can see a collaboration between the high military command and the Pres. Jonathan led PDP government.
Consequently, we will no longer tolerate any further tinkering of the electoral processes, including the alleged planned removal of Prof. Jega. On the Card Reader we Stand. [myad]