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2011: JEGA BLASTS CRITICS, SAYS ONLY EARTHQUAKE CAN REMOVE HIM AS INEC BOSS

By NBF News

Alleging moves to detract from his leadership of the Commission through orchestrated publication of falsehood, Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, yesterday blasted his critics, saying no one can unseat him as the Chairman of the Commission.

Jega was miffed by reports especially as regards the request for time extension and award of contract for the supply of the Direct Data Capture Machine (DDCM).

He charged his traducers to look elsewhere, noting that he remained unmovable and that it would take only an earthquake to get him out of INEC and that under no circumstance would he compromise on free and fair elections in 2011.

He also disclosed that INEC had written to the Senate and House of Representatives on the need to examine the bill for the establishment of Electoral Offences Tribunal to take care of violence during election so that trouble makers could be checked.

Jega, who was briefing newsmen on the Commission's activities and how it got to the point of having to seek for time extension despite its earlier insistence that it would deliver within the available time frame, said so much falsehood had been written and published on the contracts for the supply of the DDCM without any attempt to clarify from the Commission, a development he perceived was deliberate to tarnish the image of the Commission's leadership.

He said for the avoidance of doubt, he had never been associated with failure and that he could not have accepted the INEC job if he didn't believe he could deliver, adding that anyone who wished him to mess up the electoral process should have a rethink.

Said he: 'I have never been associated with failure. I would not have accepted this job if I didn't believe I will deliver. If there is anybody who thinks I will mess up and walk away, they should have a rethink. INEC problems are human and we can deal with them. It is doable. It will take earthquake to get me out of this job. I won't go anywhere; we will reform the process and make it work. It is a challenge.'

While condemning various speculations that had attended the issue of the DDCM, he explained that some firms reported to have backed out of the deal like Lenovo and Avante were indeed part of it and quoted for the jobs, adding that the contracts had been awarded but the contract papers were yet to be signed because every care had to be taken to study papers before signing them.

The papers, he disclosed would be signed this week, pointing that the process was very transparent and that Commission did an international competitive bidding process, in line with best practices. 'As we finish this process, we will publish it on our website for all to see. We know that those who bidded and didn't meet up have been using the media to blackmail us.'

Fuming, Jega stated that he was not in INEC to make money, and therefore, 'the issue of dubious contract does not arise, we are very transparent.'

The INEC boss explained that it was true that the Commission made contributions to the Electoral Act,especially concerning the timing, but that the delay in the conclusion of works on the Act and the time of its release as well as the long process of the DDCM contract ate into the envisaged timelines.

He said the leadership of his commission had sworn to uphold the laws but that it got to point that it became clear that delivering on the mandate of provision of free and fair election would require more time.

'Our request is not belated, we want to maintain our integrity, we have requested for time to conduct grade A election. We could have played the ostrich by burying our head saying we could do with what we have, yes we could do so but that will be at a big risk.

Nigerians are cynical; they look at the negative side, if we have gone ahead to make do with the time available, we will conduct the election and Nigerians will still go to court. The outcomes of 2007 elections are still being challenged till date. But are positive, we are requesting for time so that we can conduct election that that will be less susceptible to judicial disputations, whoever goes to court will be doing so for frivolous reasons.'

Jega disclosed that his Commission has written the leadership of the National Assembly on the need to help see to the enactment of law to establish Electoral Offences Tribunal because it sees the Tribunal as one of the ways of stemming electoral violence in the country.

As part of preparations for the election in the states, he explained that his Commission had taken stock of the needs of its state and local government offices and had been providing some logistics like speed boat, for the riverine areas, motorcycles and vehicles for use for elections.

He said he was not unaware of the unsatisfactory situations of the offices in the states and local governments which have in the past made the INEC official relied on their respective state governments and local government chairman for assistance.

'We are not magicians, we will do our best. Once the time extension is granted we will swing into action. I am Political Scientist, I have dealt with theories and I now have the opportunity to deploy my experiences for the practical aspects of it.'