Ahead of the 2023 general elections, a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, said the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have led Nigeria astray for the past 21 years.
Speaking during a lecture organised by Kwara Visioners Network for Rural Development in Kwara State, Jega said the two dominant parties are becoming incapable of directing the country in the right way.
“The current two dominant parties – APC and the PDP – with their quality recruitment and leadership selection processes who have shared power and have tended to lead Nigeria astray in the past 21 years are becoming incapable of directing Nigerian political and governance processes in the right direction,” he said on Saturday.
“The dominant elites in these parties are self-centered, preventing the few good ones among them to be impactful. They are also fractious and quarrelsome and lacking even enlightened self-interest.”
According to the professor of Political Science, there is a need to create a special vehicle that can go into alliance and work together to free the country from the stranglehold of parochial and reckless politicians.
Jega also dismissed speculations in some quarters that he was joining the 2023 presidential race, noting that his mission was to contribute to positive change in politics.
While stating that he is a registered member of the People’s Redemption Party (PRP), Jega noted that he hasn’t told anyone he is interested in running for the position.
The ex-INEC Chairman also reacted to moves for the electronic transmission of results in general elections, criticising the National Assembly for downplaying its importance.
He said the constitutional provision that prohibits the use of technology is a hindrance to electronic voting, asking the lawmakers to remove the legal encumbrance for electronic voting to be possible in the 2023 elections.
“In fact, INEC has used it in some elections in parts of the country. It is a pilot scheme which all the stakeholders have been observing and said is good.
“The next thing is to remove the major hindrance in the use of technology because there is a constitutional provision which says that electronic voting is prohibited,” the former INEC boss explained.
“Many Nigerians who are in support of electronic voting are blaming INEC for saying it cannot use electronic voting. They have forgotten that there is a legal provision that says electronic voting is prohibited.”
Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has called for the electronic transmission of election results in the country.
He made the call on Friday during a national political summit in Abuja, ahead of the general elections in 2023.
“Transmission of election results has been one of the key areas in which reckless, unpatriotic, and self-serving politicians have undermined the integrity of the Nigerian electoral process,” Jega said.
“Bringing remarkable integrity to the Nigerian electoral process, therefore, would no doubt require the jettisoning of the traditional obtuse manual transmission of results, and its replacement with using appropriate technology with electronic transmission of results.”
Professor Jega also expressed worries over citizens’ lack of trust in the electoral process and the poor performances by those elected through the process.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, on his part blamed the failure of the electoral system on Nigerians who ‘enthrone tyranny during elections for peanuts’.
“Are we practicing democracy? No. We are practicing election-ocracy, that is my new term for it. What do I mean by election-ocracy? Every four years, Nigerians go out to the poll to carry out a ritual of electing their leaders,” he explained.
“They never actually elect them anyway because their leaders select themselves, they are state captors. They have captured the state.”
In his remarks, A political economist, Professor Pat Utomi, proposes a solution – the merger of three political parties aside from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He said, “To project these desires, the comity of NCFront for Political Parties is proposing the merger of three of the leading political parties outside of the PDP and the APC to merge with a plan to absorb other parties and righteous wings of the APC and the PDP.”
Many of the participants believe that Nigerians must be ready to embrace the right motives of electing those that will lead them via a credible electoral process to ensure good governance in the country.
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega has cautioned Nigerians against voting for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Speaking in Kaduna State during an interview with BBC Hausa, the ex-INEC boss argued that the two major political parties were synonymous with corruption, asking the masses to choose a credible alternative.
“The APC and the PDP have [ruled] all we have seen, they do not mean reform,” Jega said. “If you look at the fight against corruption, all the people who are said to be thieves will be punished because they stole under the PDP, now they have defected to the APC, and you are silent.”
“That is why we believe it is time to create a platform for all good people to return to, to contribute to the cause of change in Nigeria.”
Speaking further, the 64-year-old Professor of Political Science at the Bayero University Kano, said he registered as a member of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), to see how he could “help” Nigeria.
He alleged that those in the major political parties have destroyed everything and had made the parties so stigmatised that whichever good person joins the parties would be considered like them.
On the agitations for the country to split, the former INEC boss blamed the move on bad leadership in Nigeria, noting it had thrown the nation into its current problems.
Jega added, “So since these corrupt people have blocked everything, to the point that even if you are a good person if you are in their party and you can’t curse anything, then there should be a different party that will bring good people together.
“Obviously the way I see our politicians running the election and the way they are represented when they are elected is really scary.”
Nigeria’s electoral process prior to this time has experienced improvement, especially when Professor Attahiru Jega was the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The improvement in the process, was as a result of the introduction of technology in capturing of voters’ data – the card reader technology.
The technology had pushed backwards tendencies of ballot manipulation and box stuffing, as fingerprints are used in identifying a voter before he votes. Since no two individuals have same fingerprint, the nation’s election was near perfection.
But a Nigerian lawyer, Liborous Oshomah, fears that the gains are speedily being swallowed up by the lack of improvement on the technological input made by the Jega era.
“I had expected that probably the current electoral officials would have been able to take it a notch further and by now, all of these complaints… even when politicians complain, people would have looked at them and say well… why complain… because it is obvious.
“But because we did not bother to improve on that process, it seems as if, rather than progress, we are retrogressing. We are gradually getting back to those days,” he said.
Mr Oshomah further stressed that anyone raising any complaint about the process at this time had the ground to do so, pointing out that the card reader had its imperfections.
Technological input in the process of the election had stopped at card readers’ use and this, according to the lawyer, has given politicians time to begin to fashion out other ways of manipulating elections.
“With that process, politicians also devised another means of having to buy votes across board.
“With all of these, election now becomes a thing for the highest bidder. He who has more money will be the one that will eventually win it,” he said.
He, however, expressed optimism that with sincerity and modern technology, all elections in Nigeria will get to a level that it would be described as a fair process by all participants and political parties.
The lawyer advised that there should be provision for update of the card reader machine, a period of test-running the card readers and addition of other equipment that could make the process more credible.
He also highlighted the need for continuity in the preparation process for elections months before the election date.
The former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission and Pro-Chancellor of the Plateau State University, Professor Attahiru Jega, has identified the lack of focus of Nigerian leaders as a major setback to the education sector.
Professor Jega made the observation on Monday at the ongoing 2016 Nigeria Higher Education Summit in Abuja which is aimed at building an effective platform for the revitalisation of the Nigerian education system.
He believes that identifying the challenges facing the sector is a first step in the right direction in boosting the education system in Nigeria.
“It is very important that we recognise that the major challenge has to do with the crisis of leadership and the abnegation of responsibility and misplacement of priorities.
“But it is not sufficient to identify and apportion blames, but we need to continue to work, struggle, engage, dialogue and to have summits such as this in order to keep up raising the issues and generating the consensus that is necessary in order to really get those priorities set right,” he told the gathering.
Save Sector From Total Collapse
Other participants at the summit identified education as the bedrock for national development and a very important tool in fostering unity amidst the series of conflicts in different parts of Nigeria.
Participants at the summit were drawn from the diverse spectrum of the education sector including policy makers and vice chancellors of universities.
They are to take a look at the gradual decline in the quality of education in Nigeria and strategise to save the sector from a total collapse.
A higher education consultant Dr. Omano Edigheji said that investing in youths and education was the way forward for Africa as a continent.
“There is now a recognition in the continent that the greatest asset of Africa are its people and in the context of the youth barge, investing in our youths will be a critical driver of national development, building democratic citizenship, nation building, innovation and of transforming the continent from a continent of consumer to producer,” he stressed.
Other participants also believed and very strongly too, that improving public funding for higher institutions and creating avenue for revenue generation will go a long way to enhance their capacity.
The 2016 Nigeria Higher Education Summit has as its theme “Exploiting Diversity, Differentiation and Quality Assurance in Revitalising the Nigerian Higher Education System.
Prior to the postponement, the electoral body had said it would not shift the election, but later accepted the advice of the security agencies.
Inconclusive Election Fears
INEC has conducted several elections after the former Chairman of the Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, left office after the general elections of 2015. Most of the elections were declared inconclusive.
The recurrence of inconclusive elections in different states since the new chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, took over, has triggered concerns, with analysts expecting possible inconclusive election in Edo State, having considered the weight that the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Osagie Ize-Iyamu and that of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Godwin Obaseki, pull in the state.
Electorates in Edo State had filed out in their numbers on Wednesday, September 28, to choose their next governor. It was one of its kind, an election holding on a weekday.
Electorates in Nigeria are used to weekend voting, but this Edo Election is peculiar, with so much expected from the electoral body that had been offered an opportunity in the postponement to perfect its strategies to give the people of Edo State a free, fair and credible election.
Voting began early enough, with INEC holding on to its new strategy – simultaneous accreditation and voting.
Voting ended pretty well and in good time in most polling units and votes were counted at the locations with voters waiting to get the results of the votes before leaving.
With the process running smoothly till evening, observers and reporters expected that the collation of results would begin few hours later at the headquarters of the INEC in the state’s capital, Benin City, but that did not happen.
Gradually, their patience waned, some voters could no longer wait, while reporters resorted to watching movies at the headquarters of INEC where they were waiting.
Voters that had become nervous over the delay in return of materials from the local councils began to gather at the headquarters of INEC questioning why there was delay in return of the ballot papers for final collation and result announcement.
Despites the assurance of an INEC National Commissioner, Solomon Soyebi, that some results were ready, none came in till Thursday morning.
“From tracking we know that some results are ready,” he said, but none came in.
While APGA called for total cancelation of the process, the PDP claimed that the incumbent Governor, Adams Oshiomhole of the APC and INEC planned to rig the election at the collation centre.
While these claims were made, the delay compounded issues, leaving most Nigerians awake through the night.
Patiently they waited for the results which came in on Thursday.
Some minutes after 12 midnight, Channels Television’s political correspondent in Benin City, Seun Okinbaloye, said some vehicles moved into INEC Headquarters blaring siren. “It appears they have some results,” Seun said.
Collation of results began later that morning, leading to the announcement of Godwin Obaseki as the winner of the election.
Mr Obaseki of the APC polled 319,483 votes while the candidate of the PDP, his closest rival, for 253,173 votes.
The result ended expectations that the election could be declared inconclusive, but did not end claims by opposition parties that the result was manipulated.
With the results announced, it was time for Nigerians to react to the process and performance of INEC in the governorship election that sought of ended an inconclusive election jinx.
A poll was initiated by Channels Television on Twitter and over 5,000 Twitter users voted in the poll that began hours after the election result was announced.
Expressing their displeasure with the process some residents and supporters of the PDP had held protests after the result was declared, claiming that there were irregularities that flawed the process.
War of words have continued over the election process, but this is not new to Nigerians’ as Nigeria’s elections are usually characterised by post-election Tribunal cases, a ‘deja-vu’ that may follow the governorship election of Edo State that was largely adjudged peaceful by observers.
Mr Orubebe was charged by the Code of Conduct Bureau for alleged failure to declare landed property in Kyamu and Asokoro district, both in Abuja, on assumption of office as minister on September 26, 2007.
In the other counts, Mr Orubebe is also facing charges of allegedly accepting bribes totalling 70 million Naira from one Pastor Jonathan Alota for the award of contracts in favour of his company.
The name, Orubebe, became well known in Nigeria after he attempted to stop the 2015 election collation, accusing the electoral body and its boss at that time, Professor Attahiru Jega, of being bias.
The Court of Appeal in Enugu has nullified the election of Uche Ekwunife, as the Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District.
The court has consequently ordered a fresh election within 90 days.
Anambra Central Senatorial district is regarded as one of the most keenly contested in the country having a former Governor Chris Ngige, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh and of course Mrs Ekwunife.
The appeal was filed by Mr Umeh of APGA.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Datijo Yahaya said that the election of Mrs Ekwunife on March 28, 2015, did not meet the prescription of the Electoral Act.
Reacting to the judgment, Mrs Ekwunife said she had accepted the court’s decision and was ready for the fresh election.
Mrs Ekwunife before the nullification of her election was the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Oil and Gas Downstream.
Police have placed a ban on all forms of procession, rallies or demonstrations in Bayelsa State, as the result of the governorship election concluded on Sunday is being awaited.
The State Police Command said the decision was taken after information at its disposal revealed that some disgruntled persons in the state were planning to carry out illegal demonstrations, processions and rallies.
Existing Peaceful Atmosphere
In a statement by a spokesperson for the Police in Bayelsa State, Mr Hashimu Argungu, the Police said rallies, protests and demonstrations of any kind would jeopadize the ongoing electoral process.
The command warned the intending perpetrators to desist from such acts, saying it will deal decisively with any person or group of persons who may engage in any conduct that will compromise the existing peaceful atmosphere.
It further advised the public to go about their normal businesses, as security agencies were poised to guarantee the safety of lives and property.
Collation of results is still ongoing in the Saturday election that was extended by the electoral body to Sunday to enable it hold elections in Ijaw South.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has confirmed the death of two Court of Appeal justices among those who died during the deadly stampede at Mina, Saudi Arabia on Thursday.
A statement issued by the CJN gave the names of the deceased as Justice Abdulkadir Jega, who is the brother of the past INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega; and Justice Musa Hassan Alkali of the Ilorin Division.
Professor Attahiru Jega’s tenure as the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has come to an end.
The former INEC boss, who took over from Professor Maurice Iwu, assumed office on June 8, 2010 during the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
Professor Jega officially handed over leadership to the commission’s National Commissioner, Ambassador Mohammad Wali, on Tuesday.
Under his tenure, the electoral body conducted the election that brought former President Goodluck Jonathan in and the March and April 2015 general elections that brought President Muhammadu Buhari in.
During his tenure, the INEC made remarkable input in the growth of Nigeria’s democracy, as both the general elections of 2011 and 2015 were adjudged credible by observers.
He will be remembered for his introduction of the Permanent Voters Card and the use of card readers for accreditation of voters during the last elections.
Not much has been heard about the Chairman of INEC since the successful conduct of the general elections two months ago.
At a forum organised by university Vice Chancellors last week, Professor Jega, spoke on his next move after his tenure.
He also told journalists what informed the choice of Professors as returning officers during elections.
“We know that anybody who has risen in the system and developed a career and became a Vice Chancellor will not for anything damage his or her reputation by pandering to the wishes of politicians. That is why we decided to make them returning officers and we are very pleased that they have done this country proud.
“I am looking forward to taking a leave and resting and then going back to my job in the university -Teaching, research and community service,” Professor Jega stated.
His successor, Ambassador Wali hails from Sanyima town in Tambuwal Local Government Area of Sokoto State, north-west Nigeria.
Before his appointment as INEC National Commissioner, Ambassador Wali was an Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto and Chief Executive Officer, Development Strategies International (DSI).
He is a member of various committees of INEC and the Chairman of the Tenders Board.
However, he would be acting as the INEC Chairman till the end of his tenure in August 11, 2015.