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Consequences Of Jega's Removal

By Ahmed Salami
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The most frightening and most disturbing controversy since the build-up to the 2015 elections had been the rumoured removal of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Attahiru Jega,  beforeMarch 28 presidential poll.

The rumour was like a thunderbolt to stakeholders and international community, who had apprehension that Nigerians may end up  in flame or being fragmented, if the polls are not handled in the most cautious

The politicians, particularly those from the All Progressives Congress and other concerned citizens, who saw Jega as the best Chief Electoral Officer ever raged on the top of their voices that such step would spell  doom for the country's electoral process and create constitutional crisis in the polity.

Though, Nigerians took the news with disdain when it filtered into town. It was taken  like one of those fiery tales that could be gotten anywhere during electioneering process in Nigeria.

It is no gainsaying the fact that politicians have turned the country into a huge rumour mill, where all sort of lies were being fabricated.

Former Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi buttressed this position while at the helms of affairs.

But apprehension began to grow like a cancerous cell, when some notable members of the Peoples Democratic Party began to argue in favour of the sinister intention. Some was of the opinion that the body languages from these PDP handlers and opinion moulders could be what they discussed in the dark. People began to condemn the plot, even if it was not going to be true in the end.

The reason cited was the constitutional requirement surrounding Jega's appointment. Some of the proponents of the removal like governor Ayodele Fayose  and former Governor of Anambra State, Chief

Chukwuemeka Ezeife argued that no one is indispensable in a country like Nigeria, including Jega. They said his removal makes no news. Fayose even took a step further in his characteristic manner, saying ”Heaven Will Not Fall If Jega is Removed”.

As much as I agree with the assertion that no one can claim absolutism of knowledge or perceived to be sole dependent upon by a country full of abundant human resources like Nigeria, but it is expedient for us to understand that some are better in certain positions than the others. Just like the coming of the Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed (Saw) Some vacancies could still be hard  to fill.

Going by antecedents of the country in terms of woeful conducts of elections, Jega's vacancy would be difficult to fill. We had had in the past when some Electoral Chiefs were behaving like card –carrying members of a political party. The rapport of the late FEDECO's head, Chief Ovie Whiskey had with the National Party of Nigeria during the second Republic and the one between the  PDP and Prof Maurice Iwu, were few examples in this regard.

Again, Jega could be taken as being indispensable as far as the conduct of the 2015 elections  is concerned. We should not allow political expediency to becloud our reasoning to a certain fact that this man started the whole process four  years ago. He has introduced smart card readers , Permanent Voter Cards and other laudable initiatives into electoral system.

Jega leant about these noble and fraud-proof   initiatives from other democratically advanced nations and wanted to practice in Nigeria. If the man or the learner is not allowed to carry out the test, who then can? I quite agreed with the fact that INEC is like a team, but a team without a viable and reliable head is like sheep without shepherd.

It is under this context that I agree that Nigeria needs Jega now and his removal may drag the country back to the abyss.

Aside the foregoing, are our politicians not cognizance of the position the country is ? Nobody needs a soothsayer to prophesy that the country looks supercharged  at this time. It is like a nation on the precipice and needed cautious and steady astuteness on the part of the leaders to redirect to a safe shore.

But with the way politicians are scheming dangerously to outsmart one another, it seems they are not bothered about  what will be the Nigeria's end if some sordid steps are taken. Unknowingly, they forgot that they will have a miserable end if Nigeria has a distasteful end. They are not cautious of the constitutional crisis the country would be submerged, if elections does not hold 30 days before the handing over date of May 29. They are only concerned about now, which may not materialize if Nigeria's tomorrow ends in a catastrophe .

We had had in the past in this country, when tenure of officer, whose relevance to elections is minimal and not as pressing as the Chief Electoral Officer like Jega was extended just in the interest of the nation or to avert changing the goal post in the middle of the game.

Because this will be suspicious and derails the players' morale. The case of former Inspector General of Police, Mr Tafa Balogun, whose tenure was extended by Obasanjo is still fresh in our memory.

On that premise, even if Jega's tenure lapses, no one would have expected President Goodluck Jonathan to moot the idea of removing him at this frenzied time. Of what benefit and whose interest would his

removal serve?
Great Lawyers like Chief Femi Falana(SAN), Dr Tunji Abayomi, Festus Keyamo had argued that Jega's appointment was not covered by  the civil service rule, which stipulated that an appointee must go on three months terminal leave. Again, why should a minister, whose appointment went through same crucible at the Senate should enjoy the benefit of serving till May 29, when president will quit?

For Nigeria to remain as one and for the coming elections to enjoy some confidence from Nigerians, I want to join other Nigerians to again restate that Jega's retention, rather removal would serve the electoral process better and Nigeria will reap the benefits thereafter.

Written by Ahmed Salami, Media Aide to Hon. Michael Opeyemi Bamidele.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Ahmed Salami and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."