Like joke, like joke, as the Nigerian lingo goes, Professor Attahiru Jega, the Chairman of INEC has become enemy number one to the withering cabal in PDP and all those that invested in the continuation of the malfunctioning Goodluck Jonathan presidency and his endangered party, the PDP. The other day, PDP’s Rottweiler and paid jobber, Chukwuemeka Ezeife was threatening that there would be no election except Jega quits as INEC Chairman. He was simply re-echoing the views of a so called Southern Leaders Forum, a ringside front for supporters of PDP and Jonathan who, on the day the National Security Council met and vetted Jega’s preparedness for election, organized a press conference somewhere in Abuja and were demanding the sack and arrest of Jega. Like commissioned jobbers, these shadowy enablers of Jonathan/PDP did not advance any coherent crimes Jega committed that warranted their extreme demand. At best, what they advanced were mere regurgitations of the disheveled afterthoughts the PDP hastily assembled against Jega and his INEC the moment they saw defeat starring them in the presidential election.
Since this commissioned group’s demand, the Jonathan presidency and the PDP have succeeded in forcing INEC to postpone the elections for six weeks on flimsy security concerns. They have proceeded to unfurl a series of moves aimed at either scuttling the election which they are expected to lose as well as other scorched earth moves to prevent, at all costs, the clearly expressed desires of the Nigerian masses to ensure that they democratically end the reign of ghouls and vandals which had exacerbated the problems of Nigerian nationhood, extended the bounds of corruption and impunity and invested ineptitude, cronyism, ethnic and sectarian rancor, bigotry, nepotism and avarice as principles of state policy especially in the last six years.
Since the Jonathan presidency and the PDP walked away with a gratuitous six weeks extension, it had embarked on a wild window shopping for measures that will vitiate their dwindling electoral prospects. Chief among these measures are targeted agains the electoral process and in their wild permutations, what they need to hang on to power is the removal of Jega and the removal by fiat of any credible impediment to the kind of ravaging electoral fraud which feeds the soul and body of PDP and its sixteen years dominance of power in Nigeria. See PDP’s roadmark to untrammeled power; remove Jega, stop the use of card readers and discard permanent voters card and possibly use the military and other security agencies to force down a forged result. PDP is not shameless to advance these as the ways to go In an election it is entering as an incumbent, having been in power for sixteen years! What should bother any decent mind is that the PDP does not betray any iota of shame making laughable cases for an electoral process that rests on their compromised whims and caprices
Back to Jega. Let us recall the electoral fiasco of 2011 and how Jega rode on the back of that electoral charade to become PDP’s poster boy for ‘free and fair election’. Let us recall that in 2011, Jega’s INEC, without qualms, announced electoral results where Jonathan and his PDP appropriated between 90 and 99 per cent of all registered voters in the entire South East and South South States and advanced a magical manipulation of result sheets in the North to get the required 25 per cent across the northern states where Buhari was immensely popular. Remember that when the then CPC went to the tribunal to challenge this confounding result, this same Jega was to make a stunning entry in his defence at the tribunal that subjecting the results he claimed were actual votes to forensic examination, as CPC sought to do, amounts to endangering national security. The rest became history but suffice it to remind that the judge handling the case was removed midway into the case, retired and a pliant judge imposed to see through the wishes of the PDP at the tribunals. While Jega was approving thus deliberate larceny to favour the PDP, he was the best thing God created for mankind after pure water!
So what really has changed? Today, Jega is a marked man, being hounded by the poisonous darts of the PDP, the Jonathan presidency and their well oiled enablers who are commissioned to launch scurrilous attacks on Jega and his INEC as a way of forcing PDP back to power. You and I may ask; what really is Jega’s offence? What mortal sins did he commit so lately in the game that he must be sacrificed at the very injury time of a critical electoral process? Why must he be dragged to the market square, stripped naked and stoned to death so late in the life of the election and so close to his June 30 terminal date?
Sadly, the PDP, the Jonathan presidency and their soiled persuaders are not offering any convincing reason for calling for Jega’s head. At best, what we get from these people are a mish mash of fabrications, disoriented fables, stark lies, laughable drivers, infantile cocktails and pointed blackmail which are often grounded on the narrow props of fending off a gathering death verdict on the PDP and the Jonathan presidency. As is typical with the on going PDP campaign, all Nigerians get for the strident clamour by PDP and its apologists for the sack of Jega are hardly agreeing false stories targeting the emotional glans of PDP members and no serious indictment on the commitment of Jega to hold an election that will be worth its credibility before Nigerians and the outside world. When you are not hearing of how Jega has skewed the distribution of PVCs, you hear of how he had been consistently meeting and planning with nameless APC chieftains in Planet Mars on how to rig the election in favour of APC. Prodded to advance these cheap lies and desperate fabrications, mum becomes the word or at best, it becomes such shameful quaffs as that of a cash-and-carry Ezeife and his ilk; ‘Jega Must Go Or No Elections’.
Let us pause and ponder: when did PDP and its supporters discover that Jega was planning a fast one on them? Did they just happen on this few days to the election as it discovered it was running stiffly against the wishes and desires of Nigerians to end the debilitating scourge it is running as government? If it had discovered this earlier than now, why did it start its susceptible agitation at the very eleventh hour of the general election? Why did PDP leave the fact of Jega’s alleged compromise till when it had exhausted every means to hoodwink Nigerians to support its continuity with devastating results? How come PDP suddenly discovered the Jega, the good boy of 2011, is now the only anathema between it and the power it so lusciously covets?
Let no one be fooled. Jega is neither a saint nor a sinner. Jega is a Nigerian, just like any other Nigerian. He has his faults, his weaknesses and his low points like any other Nigerian. Jega has no love for the APC greater than the one he has for the PDP. I have had cause to doubt Jega especially since the 2011 electoral merchandising that the PDP maximally reaped from. I still do but I know that somehow, he wouldn’t like to leave INEC a villain. This commitment must have made him to put in place a credible process that will ensure that the putrid electoral process is cleansed up and Nigerians get the leaders they actually voted for. This is to favour neither the PDP nor the APC but rather leave the process for the people and not the tricky hands of electoral fraudsters. For this, he had insisted on card readers to ensure those that are accredited to vote are the real registered voters and also the use of IT-compliant PVCs to ensure that the ghost millions of voters that are brought to swing every election in Nigeria are done away with. He believes these will sanitize a shoddy electoral system and return elected leaders actually voted for by the people. These are laudable innovations that will neither favour the APC nor the PDP.
For us to know why Jega had turned PDP’s mortal enemy, we have to ponder why PDP is desperately fighting against these innovations in the voting process.We must understand why PDP feels that at this stage, Nigeria should revert back to the same shambolic electoral process PDP had harvested from so as to place its present hatred and fear of Jega. We must wedge through the rejection by the PDP of the use of card readers and permanent voters card and Jega’s insistence that these harmless panacea to horrifying electoral roguery will be used to understand why PDP is fighting tooth and nail to remove Jega before the expiration of his legitimate tenure and possibly procure a pliable agent or member of the party to revert to the odious process that had so far, exclusively benefitted PDP and its notorious power barons. We must understand why PDP in desperation to revert the tumultuous demand for change feels no shame demanding that credible processes for free election be scuttled for it to walk away with another heist. It is Jega’s insistence on a clean electoral process that has exposed him to the venomous attack of a PDP that feels it cannot survive outside electoral rigging and such other criminal violation of the democratic process. It is Jega’s refusal to be used as a tool to scuttle the democratic demands of Nigerians once again that has pitted him against the ravenous PDP share reapers who predicate their contnued existence on short hanging the people through dubious electoral manipulation for their selfish interests. Nigerians must see in the insistent effort of the PDP to remove Jega by all means and pave way for another hair raising electoral fraud the refusal of the PDP and the Jonathan government to accede to the demands of a free electoral process. In their instigated blackmail of Jega must be seen a government desperate to hang in to power by every vile means even when Nigerians have had enough of it. This should form the platform for a firm insistence that this regime must go to avail Nigerians to recover from years of ruinous governance that has taken a heavy toll on all Nigerians.
Peter Claver Oparah Ikeja, Lagos. [myad]