Friday, 30 October 2015

My Experience In Conducting 2015 Polls - Jega

For the first time after conducting the 2015 elections adjudged to be one of the country’s best, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commissioner, Professor Attahiru Jega, yesterday, spoke about what the commission went through.

Jega, who is now teaching Political Science at Bayero University, Kano, spoke at the first University of Abuja Public Lecture Series with the theme Electoral Reforms in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects.

The former INEC boss said the commission had to contend with unnecessary challenges created by some desperate politicians, who wanted to win election at all cost.

According to Jega, many of the politicians, who he described as ‘militicians’ have a mindset of capturing power through any means, thereby trying to subvert the will of the people.

The former INEC boss said that the commission was able to thwart the antics of the desperate politicians by ensuring effective compliance with the laws and remaining transparent and non-partisan throughout the process.

Jega said: “From my experience, I quite often say that Nigeria has a special breed of politicians (Militicians). They generally tend to believe that political power through elections has to be ‘captured,’ and this has to be done by hook or by crook; and by any means necessary. To them, winning election is, literally, a do-or-die affair.


Minefield

“INEC faced perhaps its greatest challenge in containing the predisposition and reckless mindset of Nigerian politicians. Any wonder then that our political arena increasingly resembled a bloody battlefield, with maiming, killing, burning, and unimaginable destruction of lives and property.

“Navigating the minefield of do-or-die politicians as an impartial electoral umpire required nerves of steel, and we had to quickly muster the requisite thick skin, as well as appropriate containment strategies.

“A series of badly conducted elections could create perpetual political instability and easily reverse the gains of democratization. If adequate care is not taken, badly conducted elections can totally undermine democratization and replace it with authoritarian rule, of the civilian or military varieties.

Slams 2007 elections

“At best, they can install inept and corrupt leadership that can herald, if not institutionalize, bad governance. There are many illustrations or manifestations of this throughout Africa.

“But nowhere is this as amply illustrated as in the Nigerian case, especially between 1999 and 2007.

“The 2007 elections were manifestly the worst in Nigeria’s history, as declared by both domestic and international observers. The EU observer mission, for example, noted that the elections fell ‘short of basic international standards,’ and were characterized by violence and crude use of money to buy votes.

“There was reckless mobilization of ethno-religious cleavages and heightened use of money and thugs to influence results.

“The pre-electoral processes, such as party primaries, were conducted in grossly undemocratic fashion. In many cases, the results were said to have gone to the highest bidder.

“The winner of the presidential election, late President Umaru Yar’Adua, himself admitted on the day of his inauguration that there were serious flaws in the election that brought him to power.

Lists challenges

“There are also other associated challenges. For example, meeting the production deadlines in the production of PVCs was seriously affected by power failures, which damaged equipment, which the vendor could not quickly replace.

“The use of the SCR was constrained by the fact that some polling units were located in areas where there was no Internet coverage.”

Jega lauded President Muhammadu Buhari over the choice of his successor, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, boasting that he would make Nigerian proud with his leadership at INEC.