by Obinna Akukwe @ObinmnaAkukwe
Prof Attahiru Jega, as far as I am concerned, is the hero of Nigeria’s democratic transition and the international community seems to share the same views. I wrote a piece published on march 12th, 16 days to the elections titled, “Prof Attahiru Jega: Hero of Nigeria’s Democratic Innovations-Needs Int’l Community and Progressives Support Now” where I asked the international community and all true progressives to rally support behind Prof Jega. Another one titled “Antagonists of INEC Card Reader not Working for Jesus Christ” where I said that it is unchristian to fight measures meant to stop electoral fraud. Following the piece, I received quite a number of inquiries from some international organizations and persons who wanted to know why I believe in Jega’s neutrality and competence especially based on the backdrop of concerns raised by the ruling party, on the use of the controversial Card Reader.
My answers were that Jega’s Card Reader was meant to minimize incidences of electoral malfeasance and that only election riggers are against him, especially those who planned to sit inside select party chieftain’s house and write fake results in the manners it has been written since 2003. I also informed the enquirers that the use of card reader, if perfected in subsequent elections, will make it easy to detect electoral fraud and enable me change my governors, senators, council chairmen at will, without worrying about their electoral criminality. I was relieved when day’s later strong international support came Jega’s way in the person of the United States Vice President, Joe Bidden, who called Jonathan and Buhari on phone and expressed support for the use of the card reader.
According to the statement issued to that effect, “U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke yesterday with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the Nigerian presidential election, which is scheduled for March 28…
“The Vice President further expressed the United States’ support for the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission and its work to deliver free, fair, and credible elections, in part through its essential efforts to distribute Permanent Voter Cards and help ensure that electronic voter card readers are in place and fully operational”
Various insiders informed me of Prof Jega’s ordeal from three weeks before the rescheduled polls to even during the collation of results. This man’s life was threatened, his phones tapped, his Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC’S) and key staff were infiltrated, he was blackmailed with treats of death, exposure of some financial deals concerning INEC contracts, his relations were contacted, his friends induced to persuade him to play ball. The ruling party also tried to induce him with mouth watering offers. Presidential aides pressurized him, Service Chiefs summoned him improptly, all to break his will. There was attempt to kidnap him days before the elections, and the Collation Centre drama from former cabinet minister Orubebe failed because other accomplices who are meant to disrupt the collation processes, chickened out at the last moment.
A party chieftain told me that it was Governor Fayose of Ekiti State that suggested the idea of kidnapping Jega before the elections. President Jonathan was said to have rejected it on the grounds that the operation may go awry and harm the electoral umpire, thereby incurring the wrath of the international community. I believe that Jega somehow got the hint that Jonathan rejected the plot to kidnap him before the elections, which is to the credit of the incumbent president.
This academician stood his ground, and laid down his life for this election to take place.
Had Jega compromised, collected the billions promised him, resigned under pressure, jettisoned use of card reader or chickened out, probably another civil war would have ensued in Nigeria because the opposition parties were also ready to return fire for fire and bullet for bullets Therefore Jega is my hero of democracy. President Barrack Obama’ understanding the pressures this man passed through, had given him a Certificate of Commendation.
Unlike previous elections, only few states are still contesting results in their localities, and most have congratulated the winners including Lagos, Sokoto and even Kaduna State where Vice President Sambo,s candidate and incumbent Governor Yero lost and conceded defeat to the opposition.
Below are excerpts from the piece on Jega stating why I believe that the INEC chief is my hero of democracy? Read here;
Prof Attahiru Jega: Hero of Nigeria’s Democratic Innovation-Needs Int’l Community and Progressives Support Now.
Prof Attahiru Jega has proven to be the hero of democratic innovations through the insistence on using card reader as means of authenticating voters in the upcoming 2015 elections, in a nation where satanic madness is raging over the transparent conduct of elections.
1n 1999, Prof Eme Awa was in charge of National Electoral Commission of Nigeria, saddled with conducting a free and fair election after God delivered Nigeria from the grip of the late dictator, General Sanni Abacha. In the 1999 elections, Chief Olu Falae was rigged out by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo through the help of then military dictator Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, former Military dictator, Gen Ibrahim Babangida and multi millionaire businessmen like Former Governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu.
In 2003, it was the turn of Edo born Sir Abel Goubadia to conduct election and he superintended a process whereby General Muhammadu Buhari, former military dictator and flag bearer of ANPP was rigged out with the help of Vice President Atiku Abubakar who gave President Obasanjo insight into how modern day vote robbery could be executed. In that election, Obasanjo who according to security reports came a distant third with Buhari (ANPP) and Odumegwu Ojukwu(APGA) leading, became the winner of the fraudulent election .
In 2007, Professor Maurice Iwu , a friend of Atahiru Jega, was drafted from the United States by Senator Andy Uba to lead the electoral body. This professor of pharmacy promised Nigerians that he will conduct a free and fair election even if it is the last sacrifice he will make before he dies. When Obasanjo came with his do or die rigging format which must stop Atiku and Buhari at all costs, Maurice Iwu superintended over the worst election in the history of Nigeria. During Goubadia’s time, at least ballot boxes were stuffed with fake ballot papers but during Iwu’s time, ballot papers became useless and areas where elections never held produced winners and the losers are always advised to go to PDP controlled courts. In that same year, General Buhari was rigged out in favor of his kinsman late President Umoru Yar’adua and the later, while disparaging the Maurice Iwu superintended process, promised to institute electoral reforms. He never lived to fulfil his promise.
In 2011 it was the turn of another fellow comrade and unionist to conduct elections. Prof Jega helped Jonathan and the PDP a lot especially in the north where in areas that are Buhari’s strongholds, the PDP reduced Buhari’s votes and increased Jonathan’s to ensure that the mandatory 25 percent in 2/3 states were met. In the South East where Buhari refused to campaign, the PDP had a field day and inflated the votes of Jonathan and there is not much APC party agents can do. Jonathan became winner and Buhari wept back home to Katsina while Jega smiled to the banks.
In March 2014, I wrote an article titled ’ Presidency 2015: Jonathan and Ijaws to teach Hausa-Fulani Bitter Lesson –Part 1 where I stated that “The fact as I state it now will play out in 2015- APC will surely get more number of votes cast, and meet the constitutional requirement of 25% in 2/3 states of the federation to win the presidency, but Jonathan will manipulate the elections and declare himself the President of Nigeria with the help of Attahiru Jega.-and there is nothing the North can do about it” It took the entire PDP eleven months to discover that what I said on March 3rd is true and that APC is about to win the election, is why they rushed to postpone the February 14 polls.
The only difference in the prediction is that a proactive north went to work on Jega and prized him out of the grip of Jonathan. I was following the transmutation of Jega from being a Jonathan boy to being an independent man, ready to give Nigeria a free election.
Curiously, following the widely circulated write-ups, especially among political circles in the north, a jittery northern elites tasked Jega on his loyalty.
While the PDP relaxed, believing that Jega will still play ball as expected, the northern elites, traditional and religious leaders after the revelations had series of private talks with Jega, where they demanded to know his allegiance in the forthcoming polls. In some places some persons threw stones at him and called him a betrayer. They forced Jega to become neutral with the electoral process. To this effect, Jega started putting in place measures that will eliminate rigging in Nigeria- THE MOST POTENT BEING THE USE OF CARD READER. This device will eliminate 80 percent of the electoral fraud in Nigeria and that is where Jega fell off with the ruling party.
A prominent Northerner wrote to thank me for the write-up exposing how Jega will rig the election for Jonathan. He promised that they will work on Jega and extract a neutrality pledge from him. This they did before end of August 2014. The PDP were doing newspaper, television, and billboard campaigns talking all sorts of irrelevant things until it dawned on them two months to the election that the warning I gave about a year ago that APC will win the election is just about to happen. All efforts by the ruling party to intimidate, blackmail, induce or frustrate Jega to cave in to another electoral manipulation failed. Jega had embezzled enough in INEC, he wants to leave a legacy for his family name. He also doesn’t want to face the wrath of his northern people who are not in the mood to allow a single of their vote counted for Jonathan, Thus these circumstances had forced Jega to a state of neutrality in the elections.
Jega’s neutrality and innovation of card reader technology, whichever way it came about, is the second greatest achievement of the Jonathan regime, the first being the National Conference he successfully hosted. The problem with Jega’s innovation is that if it is implemented, the PDP chieftains who scammed Jonathan of billions of naira in campaign money, transferred same to their personal overseas accounts and made few noises on the pages of newspapers are in trouble of amalgamated loss. They failed to campaign for Jonathan, They failed to distribute money or mobilize people on the grassroots until APC effectively penetrated and mobilized the grassroots, then they woke up and wanted the use of card reader jettisoned.
Therefore Jega’s card reader is the panacea to a rigging virus which reared up its head during the Shagari era when Awolowo was allegedly rigged out of Presidential election and probable run-off in 1979 before the infamous Supreme Court interpretation of 2/3 majority threw Awo’s presidential ambition to the dustbin.
I am a Christian, Cleric and activist with considerable influence within many political, ecclesiastical and professional circles and I am spiritual enough to know that Jesus Christ cannot support electoral robbery, manipulation, rigging or scuttling of the people’s mandate. Therefore any Christian who justifies rigging is working for Lucifer- and I certainly will not work for Lucifer. I have told my colleague Archbishops, Bishops, Apostles, Venerable, Pastors this and most of them have agreed with me in principle; Muslim clerics should educate their colleague accordingly, if their Qur’an does not justify rigging.
Jega can be a devout Muslim; I do not give a damn. He could even marry four wives, I do not care so much. Jega can make his beard to be longer than that of Osama Bin Laden and he can even do his own Sallat twenty four times daily which is his business. Jega has proven to be a better follower of Jesus Christ than Prof Maurice Iwu, a knight of the Catholic Church. Jesus forced Zacheaus in Luke 19 vs 8 to return his loot back and the later said to the Lord (Jesus), “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.”
Jega is returning back the people’s mandate stolen through years of successive rigging, especially from the Shagari to the Obasanjo era back to the people. He is a hero of democracy; he should be supported and not vilified. INEC must insist on the use the card reader or else let the military postpone the election and go on with their Interim Government option.
Certainly, God had used Jega to answer the prayer of some Nigerians (including myself) that an institutionalized way of stopping corruption should be kick started. Jega is a hero of democratic innovation who is fighting electoral corruption and Nigerians and the international community should come to his aide before something worse becomes of Nigeria.
(Obinna Akukwe is the Director General, Igbo Mandate Congress (IMC))