Politicians threaten, induce INEC officials with money —Jega

By The Citizen

Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has accused politicians of threatening INEC officials, as well as inducing them with money, saying many of them were desperate and want to win election 'by hook or crook.'

This is just as the INEC boss also regretted a situation, where some politicians were desperate to clonining the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), saying their efforts would not yield positive result.

According to him, the attainment of credible, free and fair election in the February general election lies on the change of attitude and the disposition of politicians, who according to him, were bent on winning elections, 'by hook or crook.'

Disclosing this on Monday at a two-day conference organised by the Bayero University, Kano (BUK) entitled: 'INEC and the 2015 general election: Expectations, prospects and challenges,' Jega noted that it was worrisome and saddening that  politicians were threatening INEC officials, as well as inducing them with monetary gratification to do their bid.

According to the INEC boss, the commission had received a number of cases, where the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members working for INEC were threatened and stampeded by politicians when they turned down their offer.

'I am not bashing politicians, but the general tendency is disturbing, as they want to win by hook or by crook,' he said.

He, however, urged politicians to change their attitude of desperation, adding that the February election would be difficult for politicians to manipulate.

Jega, who also regretted a situation, where politicians have resorted to cloning the PVCs, warning that such attempt would at the end be to their own detriment, as the PVCs were so well programmed, that faking them was impossible, as 'cloned cards cannot work in the INEC reader machine,' Jega warned.

Jega also revealed that already, the INEC had achieved about 75 per cent in the production and distribution of the PVCs, promising that before the end of January, all eligible voters would have got their PVCs.

He noted that with adequate security arrangement, INEC would be ready to conduct elections in the troubled north-eastern states.

Though the INEC boss accepted the fact that the February election come with serious challenges, he expressed optimism that at the end, with the cooperation of all stakeholders, the elections would turn out the best the country has ever had.

'At the end of it all, it is the voters who will give the final decision in the process. As election management body, we will do our best to provide level playing ground.

'We are humans and we are doing our best, but that could not be enough. That is why we are calling on all stakeholders to also put in their best. Together, we can ensure that free, fair and credible elections are held. Nigerians should also use their election rights and improve in the credibility of the exercise.

'We inherited over-bloated structure, but we have restructured it for better, in terms of doing away with areas that were hitherto too loose and duplicating. On policy matter, we looked at both strategic and operational policies.

'We trained ourselves in maintaining to be non-partisan and highly professional. All necessary planning that could improve in an open, transparent and accountable election are put in place,' he noted.

Earlier, chairman on the occasion and the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Muhammad Lawan Uwais, lauded INEC for all the preparations ahead the February polls, while recognising the fact that INEC's assignment remained very challenging.

Also speaking , the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police in charge of  Zone One, Muhammad Tambari Yabo, warned politicians and their supporters to shun violence in the February polls, reiterating the readiness of the police and sister security agencies to ensure adequate security of lives and property during the elections. Tribune