JEGA’S FAULTY, SHAMBOLIC START
My last week's analysis of how the presidential and governorship polls will go in the country and the likely outcome, attracted myriad of replies, some reasonable and others idiotic. Anyway, that exercise demonstrated that Nigerians read, especially when the topic is of great interest to them. I thank all of you that responded. It shows that we are not doing badly.
I refused to publish the rejoinders because the space of my column cannot contain all of them even if run twice or thrice. They will be published when the polls are over so that we can know who was right or wrong. But before then, let me explain that the analysis was based on my reading of the entire political situation. I may be wrong or right.
I am not a god. And journalism is not prophecy or fortune telling. And no two journalists write the same way on any issue. So, the comparison some of you did is entirely out of place. I thank those that recognized my potential for fiction writing. One day, you will read my novel.
Hello Pat Utomi
Before I write on Jega's failure, let me comment briefly on the recent retreat from the presidential race by Prof. Pat Utomi. I was highly disappointed that Utomi would make a u-turn at a time some people are looking forward to the impact he would make at the polls. Though, Pat has every right to decide his political direction and future, he should have persevered till the end. Who knows who will wear the crown? His sudden withdrawal from the race is not a plus to the intellectual class he belongs and the youths that look up to him as a mentor. I have not met him in person, but let those who knew him deliver this disappointment to him. More annoying is his reasons for surrendering.
To me, Pat is a better candidate than the Shekarau he rooted for. Pat knows the problems of this country and how to tackle them better than the candidate he is supporting. Next time, let him not come out if he cannot endure till the end. Or he can start by contesting state assembly election. It is not true that one's political career must start with the presidency. Let him, Momodu, Okotie, and Ribadu start small and grow bigger.
Sorry for the digression. There is no doubt that Prof. Attahiru Jega, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), disappointed all Nigerians, observers and our partners with last week's disgraceful outing. In fact, Jega has failed. But whether we like it or not, what INEC did last Saturday was an admission of monumental failure. It shows that there are some huge cracks in the walls of INEC. Jega should close these cracks before more harm is done. Once beaten, twice shy.
It is hard to believe that INEC was only able to fly electoral materials to five or six states. When it found out that the materials were not evenly distributed, why not cancel the exercise? The communication gap between Jega and the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) was well illustrated by the fact that some states have done the accreditation and some even voted before the election was postponed.
Though, Jega has apologized for the 'jaggar jaggar' arrangement, it is not enough. He should make sure that there is no repeat performance. Any other one, Nigerians won't take it lightly. You cannot put people in the sun for hours only for you to later inform them that the show has been cancelled.
Why must we print our election materials abroad? Why embark in such a colossal waste of scarce resources when local printers in Mushin, Onitsha, Ibadan and Kano can even do better? Even some newspaper houses with printing machines in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt/Aba can handle the job. What happens to the government's printer? I believe that our minting house can equally execute the job.
Why are some parties' logos missing on the ballot papers?
Why do some voters' names not found in the register? It appears that the same teething problems that trailed the registration exercise are still around. How Jega conducts the rescheduled polls will assess him. Already, he has scored F9 in the first outing, which ought to have been the best. He should study harder to make good marks in the remaining examinations.
When Jega was appointed to oversee INEC, it was generally applauded. Many thought that Jega's experience as the chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will rub-off on his new assignment. Alas, it appears the two posts are miles apart. There is a big difference between activism and being INEC chairman. In the first, you deal with eggheads and the political elite. In the latter, you deal with all sorts of people including 'do or die' strategists, amala and ogbono politicians, as well as the agbataekee kingpins.
We are watching how the entire scenario will finally play out. My advice to Jega is to sit up and rise to the challenge. My prayer to him too is that the Gods of our ancestors will guide him to carry out this national assignment creditably. In fact, he has no other choice. Jega and all INEC officials should rise up to the occasion.
N/Assembly polls & zones to watch
This piece would have appeared before now but it was overtaken by events. It is a case of man proposes God disposes. But now it is indeed a matter of all that is well that ends well. My analysis will be limited to Anambra Central, Imo West, Imo East, and Abia North for the senatorial elections and Orsu/Oru-East/Orlu Federal constituency for the House of the Representatives and Orsu constituency in Imo House of Assembly.
Really, the battle for who represents Ana bra Central in the senate will be very fierce. Among the candidates jostling for the seat, the major contenders are Prof. Dora Akunyili of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dr. Chris Ngige of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Senator Annie Okonkwo of Accord Party. Though, the game will be tough, Dora Akunyili of APGA may likely carry the day. APGA is very much on the ground in the state. Her gender and towering influence will work in her favor.
Imo West or Orlu senatorial zone will be a titanic battle between former Imo State governor, Chief Achike Udenwa of the ACN and Chief Osita Izunaso of the PDP. This is a fight between two brothers and close friends. Udenwa's clout will be too big for Izunaso to dismantle. Udenwa is likely to coast home to victory.
In Imo East, the contest is between Mrs. Chris Anyanwu of APGA and Dr. Kema Chikwe of PDP. In a free and fair contest Anyanwu will defeat Chikwe. Mbaise people outnumber others from the zone. No doubt, Chris will carry the day. Moreover, Chris has represented the zone very well. Abia North is also as titanic as Anambra Central and Imo West. The two favourites of this zone are former Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu and Chief Uche Chukwumerije. The two are hot contenders. This is not only a test of power between the PDP and the PPA in the state it is also a test of popularity. It will be very difficult for Chukwumerije to outshine Kalu in the game. Kalu is a master strategist, tactician, and a darling of the people. All these will work in his favor.
The major contenders for Orsu/Oru-East/Orlu federal constituency are Chief Jerry Alagbaoso of PDP, Chief Mayor Eze of ACN, and Dr. Celestine Izunobi of APGA. Among the trio, Alagbaoso has massive grassroots support that will work in his favour. Some votes will go to Eze and Izunobi but Alagbaoso will likely carry the day.
The two main contenders for Orsu constituency in Imo House of Assembly are Chief Val Mbamala of ACN and Bro Stan Dara of the PDP. Any of them can make it. But if the zoning arrangement in Orsu is anything to go by, Dara will not make it, being an immediate beneficiary of that arrangement. Orsu people believe in power rotation among the towns. Second term, which Dara is angling for, is alien to Orsu people. This will work heavily against him. Also, the recent realignment of political forces in Orsu will work against Dara. Mbammal's massive grassroots support will work in his favour.