Botched NASS Election Exposes Deep Flaws In INEC - THEWILL Investigations

Source: THEWILL. -
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SAN FRANCISCO, April 02, (THEWILL) - The National Assembly elections slated for Saturday April 02, 2011 did not hold due to logistics failures that led to last minute cancellation of the poll by INEC.

Just like INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega said on television today, sources within INEC attributed it to late arrival of sensitive electoral materials including result sheets, blaming the logistics lapses on the failure of contractors to deliver materials on schedule.

However other sources familiar with the on goings in INEC told THEWILL that the botched elections may be traceable to more fundamental organisational flaws within the Commission. A very senior official who spoke under conditions of strict anonymity noted that there were serious issues plaguing the Commission that had been swept under the carpet which were at the root of the logistics and operational hiccups been experienced with the Polls.

“What we're witnessing is just a symptom of deeper problems that were drowned by the noise of the public adulation that greeted Prof. Jega’s appointment as Chairman of the Commission. It seems everybody got carried away in that euphoria without realizing that there were very serious issues of manpower proficiency deficiency within the Commission’s workforce that needed to be addressed. It is not the Chairman or national commissioners alone who do the work of INEC.

It is mainly the public servants and the Commission’s performance cannot exceed the capacity of its workforce. What level of proficiency for instance does the Commission have in logistics planning and supply chain management, to undertake the complex logistics operations of distributing materials around the country?” the source queried.

Another source put the blame partly on Jega’s administrative style especially his deployment of human resources. He told THEWILL that, “contrary to popular perception, the Chairman did not effect any far reaching changes in INEC’s human resource profile. Sadly the few superficial changes he made ended up having an ethnic and regional colouration. Look at the portfolio assignments for the national commissioners for instance –Jega assigned the keys ones to national commissioners of northern extraction –Operations to Dr. Nuru Yakubu, Logistics to retired Colonel Hammanga, while Information and Communication Technology is held by Jega himself,” the source added.

He noted that the Commission’s Secretary, Alhaji Kaugama hails from Kebbi State like Jega emphasising that “you see that despite all the insinuations at the early stages of the chairman’s dissatisfaction with the Secretary’s performance, the man is still in place - So the process of procurement and distribution of DDC machines for example was largely handled between commissioners from a particular region. Is it therefore surprising that while the DDC machines did not get to many areas of the Middle Belt, South West and South-South until the extra week after the initial two weeks, there were hardly any complaints from the North West and North East?”

Continuing, he added, “The simple explanation is that though there was delay in delivering the DDC machines, the bulk of those delivered on schedule were mainly deployed to states in the North West and North East zones. So while voter registration was yet to commence in several places especially the riverine areas of the South by the end of the initial two weeks, it had gone on smoothly in the favoured states from where excess machines were now redeployed to other parts of the country experiencing problems. This is what largely gave the North West the numerical voting strength it now flaunts. Otherwise how do explain how Kano State boasts almost the same number of voters with Lagos whilst Kaduna has more registered voters than Oyo and Rivers. That is how Jigawa has more voters than the FCT where many potential voters were frustrated and disenfranchised,” the source further stated.

THEWILL investigations however indicated that the despatch of officers from INEC headquarters to states for the polls only took place on Friday afternoon resulting in some of the officers travelling in night buses while some remained stranded in Abuja. It remains to be seen how the Jega led INEC can manage this monumental lapse which could diminish public confidence in the electoral process.

An analyst opined that “considering the huge investment of funds, public goodwill and support for the current INEC, this is unacceptable. Didn’t the Chairman know about the non arrival of these materials before he assured the nation that all was set for the elections on Friday?” This is even as Nigeria counts its losses from the cancelled elections owing to expenses already made and additional losses from disruptions to economic activities that the restriction on movements on Monday will cause.

Attempts to seek audience with the INEC Chairman or his aides on the issues raised were unsuccessful as at the time of publishing.