Professor Attahiru Jega's handling of the Imo Gubernatorial Election
suggests that the chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission is
either compromised or incompetent. In spite of the blank cheque and
boundless goodwill he has received from Nigerians, Professor Jega has shown
that he is a publicity hound who is not ready to solve the litany of
problems facing the corrupt agency he inherited from the shameless Professor
Maurice Iwu. Jega might be a hero in the eyes of the masses but a serious
analysis of this election will reveal deep flaws that could have been
corrected by proactive thinking.

The Imo Gubernatorial Election is a case in point. Professor Jega knew the
state had a history. In the 2007 elections, the devious Maurice Iwu
cancelled an election that the All Progressives Grand Alliance was poised to
win. The agency said the polls were violent but inexplicably decided to
cancel only the gubernatorial elections in which Martin Agbaso, the APGA
candidate was leading. In the rescheduled election, Ikedi Ohakim, then of
the Progressive People's Alliance was announced winner after some horse
trading had gone on between Iwu and former Governor Achike Udenwa. In
exchange for this brazen electoral fraud, Iwu's brother Cosmas was appointed
Chief of Staff to Mr Ohakim.

Given this history of events, one of Professor Jega's priorities should have
been to ensure that Imo's citizens are allowed to vote for their candidate
this time around. But the TV-obsessed electoral chief just could not care
less. He appointed Selina Oko, a known acolyte of Governor Ohakim as the
Resident Electoral Commissioner and allowed staffers of the Federal
University of Technology, Owerri to work for INEC even though Ohakim's
running mate is the wife of the institution's vice chancellor Professor
Celestine Onwuliri.

Amazingly, he also appointed Professor Onwuliri the Returning Officer before
a public outcry forced him to make amends. The April 26, 2011 election in
Imo was marred by widespread misconduct sponsored by the goons who are
milking the state dry under Ohakim's stewardship. They snatched ballot boxes
and thumbprinted thousands of votes. Yet they did not win. The All
Progressives Grand Alliance led in the election and in spite of all the
rigging, the PDP was faced with a huge problem. The dubious Selina Oko
eventually called the election "inconclusive".

When INEC announced a "supplementary" election in four local government
councils, we expected the agency to pull out all the stops in ensuring that
the election was hitch free. As usual, Jega kept himself in the news cycle
by replacing the INEC staff and assuring the public that a fair poll would
be held. This has turned out to be balderdash. As at 1 PM, large swathes of
voters have not been accredited, APGA agents are being harassed and the
much-vaunted 10,000 strong security contingent have left several polling
units unprotected. If Jega's INEC cannot organise a fair election in four
local governments, how does he expect us not to believe that the
presidential and governorship elections were rigged in areas where the
voters were mostly rural folk? Or is Jega a bigot who thinks that the Igbos
do not deserve to elect their own leaders?

Jega has to understand that his perceived animus towards the South-East
should not tamper with a national assignment. It is clear that he is acting
out a script written by powerful patrons in Abuja who want Imo to remain in
the vice-like grip of an unscrupulous looter like Ikedi Ohakim. But Jega and
his INEC cannot underestimate the will of the Imo people who are surely
going to resist this plot in its entirety.
Professor Attahiru Jega's handling of the Imo Gubernatorial Election
suggests that the chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission is
either compromised or incompetent. In spite of the blank cheque and
boundless goodwill he has received from Nigerians, Professor Jega has shown
that he is a publicity hound who is not ready to solve the litany of
problems facing the corrupt agency he inherited from the shameless Professor
Maurice Iwu. Jega might be a hero in the eyes of the masses but a serious
analysis of this election will reveal deep flaws that could have been
corrected by proactive thinking.

The Imo Gubernatorial Election is a case in point. Professor Jega knew the
state had a history. In the 2007 elections, the devious Maurice Iwu
cancelled an election that the All Progressives Grand Alliance was poised to
win. The agency said the polls were violent but inexplicably decided to
cancel only the gubernatorial elections in which Martin Agbaso, the APGA
candidate was leading. In the rescheduled election, Ikedi Ohakim, then of
the Progressive People's Alliance was announced winner after some horse
trading had gone on between Iwu and former Governor Achike Udenwa. In
exchange for this brazen electoral fraud, Iwu's brother Cosmas was appointed
Chief of Staff to Mr Ohakim.

Given this history of events, one of Professor Jega's priorities should have
been to ensure that Imo's citizens are allowed to vote for their candidate
this time around. But the TV-obsessed electoral chief just could not care
less. He appointed Selina Oko, a known acolyte of Governor Ohakim as the
Resident Electoral Commissioner and allowed staffers of the Federal
University of Technology, Owerri to work for INEC even though Ohakim's
running mate is the wife of the institution's vice chancellor Professor
Celestine Onwuliri.

Amazingly, he also appointed Professor Onwuliri the Returning Officer before
a public outcry forced him to make amends. The April 26, 2011 election in
Imo was marred by widespread misconduct sponsored by the goons who are
milking the state dry under Ohakim's stewardship. They snatched ballot boxes
and thumbprinted thousands of votes. Yet they did not win. The All
Progressives Grand Alliance led in the election and in spite of all the
rigging, the PDP was faced with a huge problem. The dubious Selina Oko
eventually called the election "inconclusive".

When INEC announced a "supplementary" election in four local government
councils, we expected the agency to pull out all the stops in ensuring that
the election was hitch free. As usual, Jega kept himself in the news cycle
by replacing the INEC staff and assuring the public that a fair poll would
be held. This has turned out to be balderdash. As at 1 PM, large swathes of
voters have not been accredited, APGA agents are being harassed and the
much-vaunted 10,000 strong security contingent have left several polling
units unprotected. If Jega's INEC cannot organise a fair election in four
local governments, how does he expect us not to believe that the
presidential and governorship elections were rigged in areas where the
voters were mostly rural folk? Or is Jega a bigot who thinks that the Igbos
do not deserve to elect their own leaders?

Jega has to understand that his perceived animus towards the South-East
should not tamper with a national assignment. It is clear that he is acting
out a script written by powerful patrons in Abuja who want Imo to remain in
the vice-like grip of an unscrupulous looter like Ikedi Ohakim. But Jega and
his INEC cannot underestimate the will of the Imo people who are surely
going to resist this plot in its entirety.
 

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