Trouble In Inec, As A Frightened President Jonathan Secretly Pressure Prof. Jega For Extension
Trouble has found herself at the doorstep of the Office of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] and at the Office of the President of Nigeria. This is as simultaneous election related quagmire brews on the desk of Prof Attahiru Jega and at the desk of President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan. Ukpakareports.com has received confirmatory information indicating that the INEC's recent request for time extension on the dates slated for general elections came as a result of intense pressure from the Office of the Presidency. And Prof Jega's easy acceptance to buckle under the intense presidential pressure was due to the noxious problems brewing within the INEC amongst the newly appointed commissioners over the award of contracts.
At the epicenter of the brewing quagmire in the Office of the President is the unfolding parlay and horse trading associated with the upcoming presidential primaries within the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP]. And for the Chairman of the INEC, the brewing quagmire anchors around its inability to coordinate its many commissioners' activities particularly, one of its problematic and ambitious commissioners, Philip Umeadi.
Following a glowing declaration rally at the Eagles Square on Saturday September 18th 2010 by President Jonathan of his desire to join the race for presidency under the PDP platform, more information regarding the internal tussles within the PDP has begun to seep into the public arena. It is gathered through impeccable sources close to the Presidency that the President is not certain of getting the PDP ticket required to contest under the PDP banner. The source pointed to the new PDP electoral guidelines newly signed into the PDP bylaw - as the chief reason why the President is not sure of getting a ticket from the PDP.
In particular, the new guidelines took powers and control over delegates away from the President and essentially gave it to the State Governors. The President who would normally have the ministers and other aides under him as delegates in a PDP primary, would now have to depend on the members of the State Assemblies, the Local Government Area Chairmen and other elected delegates members from the ward level. This robs the Presidency of 80% of the delegates that he would have had as an automatic vote prior to the enactment of the new guidelines.
Adding unneeded pedigree to the quagmire is the governor's insistence on having their primaries conducted first before the president's – against the request of President Goodluck Jonathan who had wanted for the President's to be conducted first before the governor's. The import by implication means that once the primaries for the governors are completed, the President would not have the powers to threaten the governors of denying them the gubernatorial ticket. And the President would have to bow and prostrate to the governors to help deliver the necessary delegates required for a victory.
In Jonathan's calculations, he does not have the necessary delegates to secure the PDP ticket.
For this reason, the Presidency went into frenzy. The order of the day became to halt the upcoming PDP primaries until the delegate count are increased to favor Jonathan's chances. The major operators within the Jonathan campaign engine tell ukpakareports.com that the body languages of the governor's forum indicate that the governors may not deliver the necessary delegates to the President Jonathan. They believe that the governors will disappoint the president once they get their PDP nomination tickets.
Our source stated that the Presidency made a telephone call directly to the Chairman of INEC in Calabar during their two-day retreat. The telephone was said to be a brief– and the subject matter was postponement / extension of the election date to late March or early April 2010. Prof. Jega was said to have not resisted the suggestion/instruction to extend the date to another date.
Immediately following the end of the two-day retreat, Prof Jega who saw the President's request as a welcomed relieve valve, quickly announced to the media that the election date maybe moved.
On the INEC end, the scramble for contracts amongst the players within the newly appointed commissioners has virtually halted administrative activities at the Commission. On the first level, one of the two Commissioners remaining from the Prof. Maurice Iwu INEC, Philip Umeadi who was an Andy Uba nominee to the Commissioners seat is said to be working to undermine the INEC Chairman – in the hopes to mount the Chairman's seat in the near future.
It is recalled that immediately following President Jonathan's release of Prof Maurice Iwu that Philip Umeadi rushed into the office and 'took over' the Chairman's office and securing all the keys. He went on to freeze the INEC bank accounts. This is as he believed he was to be the next in line to assume the office of the chairman. But the President acted to make the other remaining Commissioner, Adedeji Soyebi, the acting Chairman – until Prof. Jega was appointed. Our source states that Philip Umeadi has remained vindictive of the INEC Chairman for this reason.
Principal Officers of the INEC tell us that the delay in working out the details in the award of contracts to the three firms [Zinox, Thermocool and Avant] has to do with the foot dragging of Philip Umeadi who chairs the committee on legal affairs [Umeadi is the only lawyer among the 12 commissioners]. Our source who also seats in the legal committee indicate that the three firms [till date] have not been given concrete commitment to proceed with the delivery of the said voter registration items [Direct Data Capture equipment] – which experts say will require about 4 weeks to deliver.
The principal officer stated that the carcass did not hit the ceiling fan till the retreat in Calabar when it became clear that the INEC will register its first failure under the Jega led team. All the time sensitive deliverables were not on track and the mood of the retreat reflected a depressing one. This is according to the source. He continued to add that the Chairman failed to heed the advice of experts in the field concerning the administrative maladies that awaits him over the faulty schedule released by the Commission. He cited the warnings of an ICT expert, Mrs Onyinye Dike.
She had cautioned the INEC chairman on the issue of timeline. She pointed out that "not only is this a Herculean task, but many experts in logistics and procurements, as well as experts in electoral operations, do consider that it is just unrealistic within the targeted time frame." She proffered then that more time to be added by INEC "to ensure a credible voter registration exercise if this is really the objective."
According to her, this is because the batteries cannot be sent through air freight; they need to be shipped from Asia by sea freight; manufacturing of integrated kits will also have to be included; procurement of some devices such as fingerprint scanners may take up to 14 weeks; training of 360,000 staff to handle the equipment has not yet been planned by INEC; registering 70 million people in two weeks is too ambitious and may not be achievable, as voters usually show up on the last days of the registration exercise. An extension of time may therefore be necessary, she advised.
Add to this the logistics of transporting 120,000 units of hardware equipment and getting them integrated with the software all around the country which has not been taken into consideration. Dike explained that "to provide 120,000 units of DDC hardware within a few weeks requires at least a fleet of 10 Jumbo Boeing aircraft to carry the 120,000 units (the weight of one unit is about 10 kilogram and the maximum weight a Boeing 747 jumbo can carry is 120 Tons)."
But the Chairman did not take the advice.
And as a result, he now finds himself having to eat his words in the public. Some knowledgeable observers believe he is overwhelmed by the intrigues and pressures of the job – that his former post as President of ASUU may have not prepared him for the post of INEC chairman – and that his inability to set a hard INEC schedule serves as an indicator and/or symptoms of the inadequacies of the former vice chancellor of Bayero University Kano.