Attahiru Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is close to bowing to fierce pressure by announcing a six-week postponement of the February general elections. However, even though Mr. Jega is all but certain to do the bidding of President Goodluck Jonathan by setting a latter date for the elections, our sources in the Presidency insist that Mr. Jega will not survive as INEC chair much longer if plans by the Presidency to sack him materialize.
SaharaReporters has consistently reported that President Jonathan and his closest associates have been desperate to postpone the elections to enable them to re-strategize in the face of certain signs that Mr. Jonathan and his party were on the cusp of losing by a wide margin.
Once Mr. Jega makes it official that the elections will be postponed, Mr. Jonathan and members of his close-knit kitchen cabinet plan to intensify their plot to plant an interim government after successfully removing Mr. Jega as INEC chairman. Mr. Jega’s tenure is scheduled to end in June 2015.
Our sources reveal that the president and his team are exploring several options to ease Mr. Jega out of his INEC job. One option, according to a source embedded in the Presidency, is to ask the INEC chair to go on “termination leave” as early as the end of March, 2015. A second and more potent strategy is to launch a series of subterranean threats to his life and a series blackmail strategies,including the use of sections of the Nigerian media to accuse Mr. Jega of corruption in the award of INEC contracts.
SaharaReporters learnt that the heads of Nigeria’s security agencies, under direct instructions from the Presidency, categorically told Mr. Jega yesterday that they could not guarantee establishing a climate for free and fair elections to hold in February. They also reportedly warned Mr. Jega that they could not guarantee his personal safety and those of other INEC staff should elections go ahead on February 14th as currently scheduled.
The alarming pressure on Mr. Jega forced him to call a meeting of political parties, non-governmental organizations and resident electoral commissioners in Abuja today. Although the meetings are yet to end, Mr. Jega has confided in several people that he was open to considering a six-week postponement.
One of our sources said President Jonathan’s aides had bribed several briefcase political parties to go to INEC to demand a postponement of the elections.
The real agenda of President Jonathan’s inner circle is two-fold, according to information obtained from sources in the Presidency. The first is a desperate desire to get tenure extension at all cost through the backdoor. The second is to buy enough time to prepare the army to help rig the elections in favor of Mr. Jonathan should the incumbent president and the PDP continue to face bleak prospects in the polls.
Two sources at the Presidency disclosed that Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke was particularly rattled at the prospect of Mr. Jonathan’s defeat. Ms. Alison-Madueke, who has engineered several shady deals in the oil sector that enabled her, Mr. Jonathan and a few cronies to pocket billions of dollars, is described of deeply scared of exposure and possible jail time should Mr. Jonathan lose the elections. The sources said the Petroleum Minister had persuaded Mr. Jonathan to sign off on her series of corrupt deals in the oil sector by arguing that the billions of dollars she was stealing would be used to guarantee re-election for the president. The minister used several fronts, including Jide Omokri, Kola Aluko, and Toye Cole in a series of questionable deals. One of her fronts, Mr. Aluko, who was also the minister’s lover, reportedly ran away with more than $2 billion dollars after a jealous Ms. Alison-Maduekebegan to hound him for dating former supermodel Naomi Campbell.
A source close to the Presidency also disclosed that Mr. Jonathan had struck a multibillion-dollar deal with Chadian President Idris Deby to outsource the fight against Boko Harm to Chad. With Chad now fighting Boko Haram on Nigerian territory, President Jonathan and his backers within the military would have enough troops to deploy to help rig the elections, said the source.
The president has already deployed soldiers massively into Lagos today to forestall any peaceful protests against the postponement of elections.