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Jega: A Disaster Predicted and A Prediction Fulfilled—Unravelling The Radical Academic and His Dysfunctional Agency

--Cutting-Edge Analytics--

By: Franklin Otorofani
 Published February 1st, 2011

His emergence as Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) sometime in August, 2010, after prolonged consultations by President Jonathan following the forced departure of his predecessor, Professor Maurice Iwu, was jubilantly celebrated as the panacea for the nation’s electoral woes; supposedly heralding the dawn of a new era in the nation’s electoral history. And given Nigeria’s contentious electoral outing the last time around the reverberations of which are still with us today, everyone, including, I dare say, the professional election riggers themselves was on the same page that the nation needed a total break from the jinx of calamitous elections that threaten the very foundations of the nation.

His appointment, therefore, was not supposed to be mere change of guards to continue business as usual as in other agencies, but one to inaugurate a revolutionary epoch that would effectively consign the past to the past never to rear its ugly head again in the nation’s electoral affairs. And that expectation was not pulled from the air just like that, but solidly founded on the president’s solemn pledge and the commitment of the National Assembly to the nation to do it right this time around in order to remove, once and for all, both domestic and international stigma from our elections. As far as the president and the National Assembly, and indeed, the nation were concerned, no sacrifice would be too great and no mountain would be too steep to climb, paraphrasing the immortal words of late US President JFK, to get to where we wanted our nation to be in the conduct of her democratic transitions. In other words, the nation was able, willing, and ready to throw in whatever she had at INEC even if it meant Nigerians starving.

And he was universally acclaimed as the right man to get it right. Never before in the nation’s tortured electoral history had the appointment of one man brought so much relief to the nation and restored so much hope and confidence on her electoral agency, INEC, for a better and much improved electoral outing in this and subsequent electoral cycles. And he was swept into his expansive office on the crest of public goodwill which knew no bounds. However, when we get right down to it, we will find that the hope and confidence reposed in the man were somewhat misplaced because they were largely borne out of superficialities rather than of any substantive resume of the man at the center of it all—Professor Attahiru Jega, now arguably on the nation’s hottest seat. And this writer has had cause to point this out in the past. Dishing out Marxism/Leninism theories to a bunch of students in the classroom is not the same thing as organizing elections even for a local government area. And that fundamental difference is already manifesting itself to the chagrin of the nation. Today, it is doubtful if the hitherto overflowing fountain of public goodwill on Jega is still active or extinct. If it is not already extinct, that volcanic eruption of goodwill has definitely cooled down and it’s only a matter of time before Nigerians start calling for Jega’s head as they did for his predecessors. They’re already bestirring themselves and glimpses of that are already evident.

Therefore, although Jega had little more than his admittedly impeccable academic robes to bring to the job, his public persona acquired as erstwhile president of the nation’s radical university teachers’ association, ASUU, was enough to instill calm in the frayed nerves of the political class mainly in the opposition, who wanted no one else but Jega. To be sure though Jega had a lot going for him in terms of personal integrity and independent mindedness; qualities that are essential for the job of INEC’s helmsman. Besides he had served as secretary to the Justice Uwais Panel on INEC, which made sweeping recommendations to the government some of which have been implemented. However, those are just the basic qualities that do not necessarily speak to the on-the-job-demands and, therefore, not nearly enough to place the man on a solid footing for the daunting tasks that laid in wait for him at INEC headquarters. In other words, his cognate resume did not exactly match his job description. And if not for the fact that his was a purely political appointment, he would probably not have made the short list in the first place. Sitting in some cozy air-conditioned office to receive memos and dishing out recommendations on paper is one thing and actually implementing the recommendations in real world situation is quite another as it has clearly become evident. No sooner he got the job than the evidence began to pile up of his lack of gravitas for the job. Iwu’s shoes are simply too big for him and he is only limping in them, not walking let alone running. The man was soon to find out that the utopian world of academia is so different from the real world where different players and cross forces are at play at the same time with some cancelling out one another, and others prevailing albeit temporarily, that not only defy, but in fact make nonsense of the theoretical idealism of the ivory towers where he belongs and to where he should, candidly speaking, return before our hopes and aspirations are totally dashed on the rocks of gross incompetence. 

However, it is clear that the problems of INEC are beyond INEC and many of them are traceable to the incompetence of other critical agencies such as the security agencies and our incorrigible politicians as we have seen in the disappearance of DDC machines right at the airport and now from INEC storage facilities and registration centers. There is no question as to who are behind these heists. According to latest report “INEC Loses 20 DDC Machines To Thieves,” carried by the Tribune newspaper, the electoral body may have lost no less than 20 machines to hoodlums so far and still counting some of them right under the nose of security officers at registration centres. Would anyone argue that with the DDC machines suddenly acquiring biological properties immediately they touched Nigerian soil at Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) by growing long legs and simply walking away unchallenged from INEC stores and registration centres would not result in denying thousands their rights to be registered to vote? Is anyone out there seriously in doubt that those machines that couldn’t grow legs and walk away which happened to be the ones breaking down intermittently and constantly being shipped to repair shops and winding up being marked “return merchandise to suppliers,” would not negatively impact the outcomes of the registration exercise resulting in disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of eligible Nigerians? How many DDC machines would be available to INEC to do the job with the rate of stealing and breakdown? Your guess is as good as mine.

But one has got to ask the question as to how a nation of 150million hotheads came to this sorry pass. It’s precisely because she was intimidated by rabble rousers to throw away the baby with the bathwater! Although everyone, especially those strident voices from the camp of the opposition were quick to ask for the head of the former Chairman of INEC on account of his alleged incompetence, no one, not even the media, was prepared to critically examine the nature of the daunting challenges facing the body and all of INEC’s woes were conveniently reduced to one man, and one man only, Professor Maurice Iwu. Remove him, they howled at us, and all would be just fine with INEC and our elections! That was the gospel according to the book of the opposition. Iwu’s replacement was stridently touted by the “Lagos Axis of Evil” as the cure all for INEC’s diseases. One, Femi Falana, took it rather personal by going to court to compel his ouster alleging against the clear provisions of the law, that Iwu’s appointment had expired before its due date, all in desperate and unconscionable attempts to forcefully remove him before his due date. 

As Shakespeare would put it, he was like a dog tied to the stake and bayed from all sides by other dogs, but unable to fight back. And so it came to pass that anyone who could find one, including even the lame, carried a club to strike Iwu on his head, including, get this, even the NLC that forgot the woes of its members to jump on Iwu. Yes, even the same NLC, led by the same Abdulwheed Omar, who is now rushing to defend Jega’s scandalous handling of the registration exercise, lifted its otherwise timid hands to strike Maurice Iwu on his head, because he was tied to the stake and could not fight back his vicious attackers. And all of that animus was because he had refused to award the presidency to Buhari or Atiku or I should say to both of them since both claimed to have won the 2007 presidential elections and went to court to claim victory. Perhaps they would have shared the presidency between them had both of them won their cases against Yar’Adua. Too bad they were not as lucky as other failed candidates like them in Edo, Ekiti, Osun and Ondo states, whom the gods of the Nigerian Judiciary smiled upon to “reclaim” their mandates. 

No one could see that INEC problems had very little to do with its head as they are with the system itself, that is to say, the environment in which it has been made to operate. No one could figure out that you could replace the head of the body a million times over and the problems would remain untouched if the environment is not fundamentally changed for the better. A tree can only grow in a suitable and conducive soil not in an inhospitable and hostile soil. I thought that was elementary wisdom enough not rocket science, but I have since realized that politics is not about wisdom but about something else called “politrics” and grandstanding.

Thus a president, who publicly voiced his preference for experienced hands to return to the National Assembly and Government Houses in the States, wound up appointing a complete rookie into such a sensitive and critical agency as INEC. And today the nation is harvesting bountifully the fruits of that presidential capitulation to the demands of political blackmailers. Even though it was politically expedient to let Iwu go, his manner of departure left much to be desired from the point of view of his treatment by the government and, I dare say, the nation in general, because only few voices were raised in his defense even by those who ought to have known better that it is not about him but about the system itself. And I want to single out the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshimhole, for coming to Iwu’s defense then, which was at variance with the position of his party, ACN.

It must bear notice, however, that the same challenges that bedeviled INEC under Iwu are rearing their ugly heads again in much greater reliefs, because the environment in which INEC operated back then has not changed significantly or at all. The only thing that has changed is leadership at the center and with that, the unbridled funding of INEC. But that has not had much of an effect either, because INEC’s problem is not money, but systemic and structural anomalies that have been left untouched and seemingly untouchable in a nation bedeviled by entrenched interests even within INEC itself. Today, however, with the obvious disaster that has become of his replacement, those strident voices that had demanded Iwu’s head to be delivered to them on platter of gold have all curiously fallen silent as if all is now well and dandy with INEC and our electoral journey. The loud and shrill voices of the Tinubus and the Falanas and the so-called civil society groups in the Lagos Axis, who were at the forefront of demonizing Iwu have suddenly fallen loudly silent. You can bet on this that if Iwu was still the head of INEC today with this terrible mess going on, they would have literarily brought down the roof literarily on our heads. If he had dared to lift his hand to ask for half of what Jega got, he would have been lynched and crucified outright in broad daylight literarily in the streets of Lagos. It is utterly amazing how a supposedly intelligent people would simply reduce our serious systemic maladies that needed to be holistically addressed to personalities whose faces they don’t seem to like. And this has been going on since independence. Hack the head off and all would be well with us! What a simplistic mindset! But how has the change of personality substantively improved the fortunes of INEC so far since Iwu left? That is the inevitable question that needs to be answered by the Tinubus and the Falanas in Nigeria.

I’ll answer it for them straight up: The fortunes of INEC have nosedived and taken a turn for the worse since Iwu left. And that is not an opinion but obvious facts on the ground today. For starters, just look at the few bye elections and reruns conducted by INEC under Jega in Ekiti and Delta states and compare them with the last three elections conducted by INEC under Iwu in Abuja, and Anambra and Delta states, and you’ll find that the difference in quality and integrity cannot be clearer. While Nigerians hailed those elections and the president himself publicly touted them as evidence of an improved INEC under Iwu, nothing but public outcries trailed those conducted by INEC under Jega with INEC trading blames with other agencies. I don’t want to be misunderstood here: No one is saying here that INEC under Iwu was a paragon of efficiency and effectiveness. It fell short of public expectation in 2007, but it had substantially improved in performance after the 2007 elections under presidents Yar’Adua and Jonathan. That is important. And any sensible nation would have opted to build on those improvements rather than pulling down the walls altogether.

Now, lets get right down to the real issues: What exactly are the real problems with INEC, whether under Iwu or Jega or somebody else? The answer is obvious, enough in my view. The relevant competences are almost totally lacking in Nigeria. Of course that’s why foreign powers always step in to help wherever they can to bridge the yawning gap somewhat. INEC lacks both managerial and technical competences and that, of course, includes logistics. Those in charge of these technical issues are not professionals but civil servants, who don’t have the requisite skill sets to get things done professionally. INEC’s logistics, for instance, should not be handled in house because it simply cannot. Rather, it should be outsourced to reputable firms within and outside the country. Imagine this for a second: INEC has gone digital but with its logistics still in the Stone Age! How do you marry digital DDC systems with Stone Age analog logistics for the exercise? Incongruence is the word. They don’t belong together. Besides, how do you go hi-tech when you, the head and your entire organization are basically analog? How do you simply pull analog hands from the street to operate hi-tech equipment overnight with no test runs or pilot projects to ascertain their functionalities and workability? That is a surefire recipe for the disaster that we have seen. Again, INEC should not rely on the congenitally corruption laden Nigerian Police Force for anything resembling security. Rather, it should have its own security apparatus. The voter registration has further exposed the structural and managerial weaknesses of INEC that Jega has been unable to put a handle on six months after his appointment. It has also exposed the man’s sense of judgment on critical technical and managerial issues.

Allow me to quickly add here though that I’m not trying to blame everything on Jega as an individual as I have already indicated above, because many of the problems are clearly beyond him as a person even though he is the head with the buck rightfully stopping at his desk. And that’s why he should have been more sober and circumspect in condemning the records of his predecessor in office rather than joining the chorus of Iwu bashers especially so for a rookie like him who had yet to be baptized.  He should have known better than running his loud mouth against his predecessor’s records when he took over even before he knew where the big shoes he had put on would pinch. Now under heat for his scandalous performance he is threatening to resign. Now too, he is racing to outperform Iwu in electoral mismanagement. If what happened under Jega in Ekiti and Delta are indications of what to expect in the April general elections many Nigerians would wish for Iwu to be brought back to INEC to continue from where he stopped, because rather than moving forward we have moved backwards since he left office. Again, that is not an opinion but the facts on the ground starring at us all in the face. 

Iwu cried out loud about the challenges he was faced with while in office, but the nation laughed him to scorn and threw him out like a piece of trash with utter disrespect which I found stunning indeed. Why am still talking about Iwu? It’s because of what is happening now with INEC. It’s because of the ill-treatment meted to him by the Nigerian nation. But you know something; they may have thrown him out, but they didn’t throw him out with those problems he cried about which remained at INEC and inherited by his substitute, Jega. His detractors sure had political agenda to avenge their defeats in the 2007 elections, which they blamed on his person not even the agency as a whole as an institution. Therefore, rather than blame INEC’s poor performance on systemic and structural failures, Iwu’s detractors would rather they blamed it on his alleged incompetence and partisan manipulation by the powers that be. And although no tangible evidence of those charges were laid before the public, each time a partisan court or election tribunal handed down a partisan judicial ruling to upturn any election results against the PDP, it gave ammunitions to his detractors as purported evidence of his incompetence and manipulation. However, each time an election result was sustained by the courts or election tribunal, the man received no credits, but the same sustained, vicious attacks. There was no let up.

But how could he be wrong all of the time even when the courts or tribunal upheld the results he declared? Or, put another way, how could the man be right and be wrong at the same time? Why would he be criticized when the judiciary upturned the results he declared and not credited and praised for the results that were upheld? What did that say about fairness? Sounds to me like double standards. When we critically examine the election results upturned by the courts, however, we will find that a great majority of them were purely on technicalities rather than on substantive issues of votes scored by the candidates. Should the nation be so sanctimonious as to crucify someone for results upturned on mere technicalities by the judiciary? I don’t think so. And what’s more, far more results were upheld than were upturned by the courts at all levels. The records are there for those who care to investigate. Without Iwu proceeding with the elections as he did in those difficult days when opposition elements were plotting for Interim Government, there would have been no transition and our democracy would have been history by now—no question about it. Yet the man got absolutely no credits whatsoever even for the things he did right. Head or tail he was already a marked man and no amount of judicial affirmation of the results he declared in presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial or house election, was good enough to save his job. And that is line with the history of INEC. Under such atmosphere of unbridled blackmail it was understandably difficult for the president to retain the man and eventually had to yield ground to the opposition by bringing in one of their own—a radical and noted critic of government’s policies and performance, especially in the education sector, where he cut his teeth.

That profile and persona was what Jega brought to the table and nothing more. Was that enough? Hardly enough, but it was obviously enough for our delusional opposition. And all of a sudden the tempest in Nigeria’s political sea gave way to calm and soothing breeze that soon lulled everyone into slumber. The Redeemer of our electoral faith had arrived with the magic wand in his right hand as he went about featuring on talk shows pontificating and proselytizing about how he would deliver credible voter register and free and fair elections where every vote would count, all of which was sweet music to the ears of his captive audience.

However, while he was singing his lullabies to mesmerized politicians that soon fell asleep on him, by the time they woke up Jega had, pronto, made away with N87.7bn supposedly for updating INEC’s Voter Register that was already in the process of being tidied up by Iwu, which he promptly dismissed as not worthy of its name and he needed a fresh start. That amounted to throwing away the baby with the bathwater. A new Voter Register, the nation was told, would cost her a whooping N87bn easily making Nigeria’s Voter Register a candidate for the Guinness Book of Record for no other nation even comes close to it.And when some nosy and pesky Nigerians like yours truly began to ask questions Jega shut them up by claiming that the amount would put 70million Nigerians on the Voter Register that Iwu supposedly left out in his wretched, discredited paperwork that supposedly gave us a failed election. How much would that translate to per voter? Grab your calculator and do the math. I’m not a math guru but I guarantee it will run into tens of millions of naira per voter with Nigeria’s present population of 150 million. And don’t forget, not all the 150million Nigerians are eligible for registration. At best only 70 million of them Jega promised to register, roughly half of the population. Not bad for a nation gushing with petrodollars that she could afford to throw away while millions are going without food on their tables and making do with under $1 a day? Is that an acceptable proposition? You be the judge.

What would be the total for the entire elections proper? Don’t even go there yet. That would be getting ahead of ourselves because the N87.7bn we have been told falls short of what is required to put 70million Nigerians on the Voter Register. But if you must know it will cost the nation a whopper in the region of N100bn, the new request of N6bn inclusive to organize the April elections because like the Oliver Twist that he has become, Jega is asking for additional N6bn to complete the job. But the question is how many Nigerians has he been able to put on the Voter Register with the N87.7bn since the voter registration exercise began more than a week ago? The answer to this question is absolutely critical because his performance will be judged not by the billions he spent but by the number of Nigerians securely placed on the electronic Voter Register. He cannot just be throwing good money at bad machines and untrained and incompetent personnel. Now, here is the answer directly from the man himself not me as reported by ThisDayOnline 012711 edition: 

“ two days ago, we have registered 28.5 million Nigerians, on an average of 4.3 million per day and things are improving, that average is going up, and by our own estimation by Saturday, January 29, when we close, we would have registered between 23 and 25 million Nigerians. If we get an additional extension of seven days still using that projection of 4.3 million per day, by the end of that one week, we will be able to register more than 65 million Nigerians.” 

There you had it, not from me, but straight from the horse’s mouth telling you that at the end of the timeframe allotted for the two-week exercise, which is Janunary 29, 2011, a day before this write up was sent out for publication, he would have registered only between 23 and 25 million Nigerians out of the 70millions he collected N87.7bn for.

Please don’t ask him what happened to the remainder 45million Nigerians? If you do Jega has figured out an answer for that question ahead of time in case some pesky, nosy pecker decided to bug him. Here is the answer again straight from the horse’s mouth: “I don’t think there will be any problem, as even the 70 million registrable figure we are talking about is just a mere projection based on what we had on the old register which has been variously described as not credible”.

Did you get that? I understood him perfectly. Jega is telling us that he could not even attain the record of 70million voters found in Iwu’s Voter Register he had discredited which was produced with just N11bn! Just imagine this for a second before proceeding any further: In 2006 Iwu produced Voter Register containing the names of 70million Nigerians literarily with bare hands and in 2011 his loudmouthed, boastful successor could barely produce a Voter Register containing the names of 25million Nigerians with hundreds of thousands of DDC machines at the cost of N87.7bn and still counting! And as if that was not enough it has been alleged by the “Senators’ Forum” comprised of both serving and former senators, which parades such big names as former Senate Presidents, Chief Pius Anyim, Ken Nnamani, Abubakar Sodangi Abubakar Sodangi, Abubakar Girei and others as reported by The Guardian 012811 edition, that local communities have virtually assumed responsibility for providing registration and logistical materials for INEC.

“As a result of these, even where registration had taken place minimally, the role of INEC has been passed to the various communities which had been overburdened or overtaxed by making funds available to provide generating sets, fuel, ink pads or food to the members of staff for the exercise.
“As a result, we are afraid that millions of Nigeria would be disenfranchised,” lamented the forum’s Chairman, Senator Khairat Gwadabe, at media briefing.

These are weighty allegations and they are coming from respectable individuals. In plain language these leaders are alleging that INEC had abdicated its responsibility to villagers to provide registration materials as well as logistics. If this is indeed the case then something has got to be terribly wrong somewhere. It sounds to me this is turning out to be the biggest swindle that has yet come out the 419 industry in Nigeria. It’s increasingly looking like someone is out there playing Father Christmas to Youth Corp members and junk machines suppliers for doing nothing and supplying refurbished electronic scrap metals in the name of DDC machines at the nation’s expense. Like the nation’s lawmakers in the National Assembly everybody is seeking his own shares of the so-called “Democracy Dividends”.  And so my question is: Is this some Democracy Dividends for our jobless youth Corp members? I have no against that in particular, I just want an honest answer from Jega and his INEC. That’s all, because even Youth Corp members are entitled to the dividends of democracy, not only lawmakers and ministers and politicians. They are Nigerians too. I wonder though when the ordinary man in the street will get his own democracy dividends. Maybe during the elections proper in April when they too are hired and become private militias for crooked politicians to rubbish the elections! 

We have been receiving an avalanche of complaints about the quality of machines supplied by INEC’s greedy contractors many of which supposedly “new” machines inexplicably have dead batteries and malfunctioning electronics. How come that is the case for supposedly brand new machines? Jega owes the nation an explanation about the status of the machines supplied by its contractors at such scandalously high prices. It is not enough to admit hiccups encountered with the machines. The nation deserves to know the truth about those machines, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And on its part, it is not enough for the National Assembly, which has oversight responsibility for INEC to seek assurance from Jega about the ultimate success of the exercise. It has the responsibility of probing the source and quality of the machines supplied to INEC, and bring to book those involved in procuring for INEC malfunctioning machines to defraud the nation of such huge sums. Not only that, since INEC officials are busy heaping blames on Youth Corp members handling the machines, the nation would want to know what kind of training was given to them many of whom may not have seen or used a computer before they were handed one for an important exercise like this. The National Assembly ought to find out whether or not INEC simply handed them so-called “training modules” and sent them to the wolves just like that or they were given real-world drills before they were deployed to the field to face the real world. The probe can wait until INEC is through with the registration. It should not be rushed now so as to avoid giving INEC yet another excuse for its failures. Right now Jega is shopping for excuses and never seems to run out of them.

But just think of this: If brand new machines cannot perform the first time they are deployed for this exercise there is no reason to expect them to perform in subsequent voter registration or update exercises down the road. Or are the DDC machines disposables and not meant to be used for subsequent election cycles? Will the nation be forced to cough out another N96bn to purchase yet another set of scrap metals in the name of DDC machines in subsequent elections? Or am I getting ahead of myself here? No, I’m not, because even if they’re eventually fixed and used today, none of those dead machines will be available in 2015 for the general elections, because by 2015 they would have all been stolen from INEC’s warehouseS and later resold to the same INEC for N96bn! And that’s why Nigeria is making so much progress with INEC and election! 

Even as Jega bristles with optimism that he would achieve 65 million voter registration figure in the end if only he was granted a 7-day extension by the National Assembly and given additional funds, there is no guarantee that his projection based on field reports from his men whom the Senate President David Mark had appropriately cautioned him not to overly rely upon, that the contents of his Voter Register would be credible and pass the test of time. It has become abundantly clear that Jega is not up to the job. A chief executive who is always falling short in his projections as to timeframes, materials and funding requirements is a disaster waiting to happen. And I’m afraid Jega is a disaster waiting to happen. And I’m not just saying this because of what mess he has made of not just the voter registration exercise but the mess he has made of the entire electoral process right from the beginning, including the endless requests for constitutional amendments to accommodate his gross and endless inefficiencies. Right now both the Senate and the House have hurriedly re-amended the Electoral Act to accommodate this new request for additional time.

Back on November 2nd 2010, I wrote an article titled, Jega: Promising More—Delivering Less (PMDL) in which I had this to say about the man. And I’ll leave it to the reader to determine whether I have been proved right or wrong in the light of the new developments:

“Rather than perfecting the electoral process for which he was hired, Jega is busy perfecting the art of blackmail at the nation’s expense and preparing the nation for the ultimate failure of the 2011 general elections. He has succeeded in foisting on the nation a state of inertia where it can neither move forward nor backward until a looming disaster is upon it. He has held us all hostages to his wiles and guiles by subjecting the electoral process to unnecessary contortions, twists and turns.”

Note the phrase “looming disaster” used in the above quote. That’s precisely what has happened and may yet happen again in April. And that makes it a disaster predicted and a prediction fulfilled. The title of this piece is derived from the above. I don’t know about you but I would consider anyone who is handed N87.7bn and given 5 to 6 solid months to prepare an ordinary voter register and still came back short both in time and money a disaster waiting to happen if, in fact, it has not already happened.

And speaking directly to the lack of technical and managerial expertise available to Jega’s INEC to successfully deploy the DDC machines for the Voter Registration exercise, this writer raised an alarm to warn against what I saw back then as a disaster waiting to happen in article titled, Travails of Democracy in Nigeria (Part Two): The Looming Election Fiasco—Digital Disenfranchisement of Nigerians at the Polls . Again, I seek the readers’ permission to reproduce parts of that article as contained below:

“And you might want to ask: where is the guarantee that the new voter register to be delivered with the so-called Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines will deliver as promised? Where is the guarantee that a people who could not operate manually will be able to operate mechanically and technologically.”

“In all probability, therefore vote rigging at source is a foregone conclusion. Rigging will simply go digital in Nigeria from manual and there is nothing Professor Attahiru Jega can do about it! INEC has neither the technological wherewithal nor the physical control and management of these machines to ensure both their functionality and integrity of their inputs and outputs.” 

“And what’s more: whatever security measures put in place by INEC are not foolproof and can never be 100% foolproof when it comes to technology. If the mere award of contracts for these machines have presented such a huge challenge for INEC how much more so will be their actual operation and management!  INEC should have known better that electronic voter registers offer no guarantees against rigging and that realization should have advised an alternative approach. And the government and political parties sold on this idea should have done due diligence to verify its workability and integrity by visiting and learning from other nations that have used them rather than taking it all hook, line, and sinker. It’s foolish to dive right into a river just because others have done so without first learning of the dangers that might be lurking right below the surface.” This passage speaks for itself.

Finally, if it could be this bad with ordinary voter registration one could only imagine what it would look like with the elections proper. Absolute calamity! Just thinking about it alone sends your adrenaline going wild. While Jega needs all our prayers to succeed the man himself needs a complete makeover. I would sincerely advise him to get professionals to handle critical aspects of the job not civil servants. He should consider using trained teachers not complete greenhorns like youth Corp members fresh from college with no field experience whatsoever for the elections proper. And if Youth Corp members must be used, they require long period of training and sufficient field drills to properly acclimatize, because the BIG ONE is ahead of us not BEHIND us. Buckle up Jega and make the history books. You hold in your hands the history of the 2011 elections. It’s for you to make or mar. The choice is yours and excuses will not cut it this time around. It is my hope that Jega will take all the criticisms in good faith because they are borne out of genuine concern and Nigerians of goodwill genuinely want him to succeed because his success redounds to the success of the nation and a source of pride for Nigerians everywhere. Therefore he must take all the barbs in his strides. They come with the territory. And if in doubt he should go ask his predecessors, particularly Iwu. I’m sure he would have a word or two for him. Or maybe not..!

From the stable of –Cutting-Edge Analytics—Where News Meets the Intellect--

Franklin Otorofani is an Attorney and Public Affairs Analyst.


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