ATTAHIRU JEGA: THE NEW INEC CHAIR

As soon it became public knowledge that Professor Attahiru Jega, has been officially endorsed by the Council of State as the new electoral umpire in Nigeria, the traffic to my blog spiked dramatically. It’s amazing that in less than twenty-four hours, I had more than 500 visitors.  They had one purpose, which was to read a book review: Attahiru Jega on Democracy in Nigeria.

Although I have no intention of self-incensing, nonetheless, it shows that the political consciousness of Nigerians have increased dramatically. After the dismal outing of Maurice Iwu as INEC chair, Nigerians seem to be particularly interested in who mounts the saddle as the electoral umpire.

This is particularly evident in the clamour for credible elections in 2011. And usually the person who heads the electoral agency must be seen to be guileless, with an integrity that is transparent and also unbiased. It is not just enough to allude to the qualities listed above, it is absolutely essential that the perception matches reality.

Although I do not know Jega personally, however it is obvious that Lucky Jo (Goodluck Jonathan) has proved himself a worthy statesman with the guts to keep to the promises he made. Having read the authors submission (as contained in his book), I have no doubt that he is the best man for the job.

While some may argue that is still early in the day to canonise Jega, nonetheless it is trite to note that a person’s past actions tell a lot about his disposition. If the new INEC boss, had been the typical Nigerian – who loves fame and wealth above his good name, I see no reason why he would have remained unbending to antics of the military dictatorship as ASUU president.

Besides, a closer look at his essays reveals a passion for the Nigerian project. “One other striking aspect is the fact that Jega’s critical essays provoke a feeling of déjà vu. It seems that things hardly change or better put that our political leaders never learn from history. Otherwise how can one explain the fact the mistakes of the past are nearly always repeated. Jega knowing his turf can be better described as a political prophet. This is because after reading this book, I could only conclude that if our political elites would only listen, Nigeria would be a much better place.”

Nonetheless, Jega should be mindful that INEC is an institution and it takes much more for a person to change things. As such, he should not see this as an opportunity to validate or refute theories on political science. As much as an intellectual abstraction of the problems are welcome, he should have his feet on the ground. Need I state that Nigerian politics and politicians have defied all know political theories?

I will sign off by wishing him well on his new job. Nonetheless, Jega should be aware that many eyes (within and across the Atlantic) are watching and would be prompt to keep him on his toes. Nigerians want their vote to count and Jega should do just that and nothing more. Please do not disappoint many who have placed their trust in your pedigree!

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