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Mr. President, You Are Fired! (A Nation in Ruins)

By Dr Anthony Chuka Konwea, PE

A routine exercise like a General Election would not be Nigerian if there was no last-minute drama or would it? To the French writer Jean-Baptiste Alfonse Karr (1808 – 1890) is credited the memorable words “plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose,”which roughly translates as “the more things change, the more they remain the same.” Nothing could be truer of this quote than the misnamed Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s decision to shift the Nigerian General Elections by one week to February 23, 2019.

We have been through all this before. It happened recently in 2015 under the stewardship of then President Goodluck Jonathan who was roundly criticized for it and later booted out of office. It has happened again under the watch of Nigeria’s self-acclaimed “man of integrity” President Muhammadu Buhari who ran under the electoral banner of ‘Change’ in 2015.

You ask yourself, what has changed under the sanctimonious President Buhari, other than we are all nearly four years older, mostly poorer, mostly less secure, mostly uncertain of our future, mostly overfed on propaganda, mostly divided as a country and mostlyregressing to square one. If Nigerians were rational people, what we should be telling President Buhari on February 23, 2019, assuming there are no further postponements of the election, is “Mr. President, you are fired!”

What has been demonstrated to a global audience, is the failure of administration at different levels. At the base level is the failure of INEC itself. As many have rightly pointed out, INEC have been preparing for these General Elections for at least three years. Therefore, they really have no excuse to fail so spectacularly and so dramatically before the entire world.

Ifthere were shortcomings in funding, logistical support and outright intimidation, the INEC boss and his commissioners ought to have resigned their positions honorably rather than tainting their integrity and reputations so disgracefully. That they have failed to do so either means that they are grossly incompetent or that they had very little reputations to begin with.

It is a moot point to suggest that INEC could not have foreseen the challenges it has encountered so far in carrying out its mandate. A good administrative and operational plan is not built on assumptions that things will go well but rather on a preemptive assumption that things may go very badly. A good plan therefore should have inbuilt mechanisms to address contingencies as well as having multiple redundancies. Even in the most advanced of countries, there are back-up plans. In Nigeria, given our peculiarities and man-made challenges we should have primary, secondary and even tertiary backups to operational plans.

By postponing the elections,the Buhari INEC have proven themselves to be grossly incompetent. The Jonathan INEC postponed the 2015 elections six days before voting began by six weeks citing insecurity as their reason. The Buhari INEC postponed the 2019 elections merely hours before votingbegan for logistics reasons! Insecurity may be beyond your control, not logistics if you are not incompetent.

By any stretch of the imagination therefore, as poor as the Jonathan INEC was, they are many rungs above the Buhari INEC in terms of performance ranking. That is even putting it charitably. Many observers and conspiracy theorists hold the view that the postponement was aimed at financially crippling and logistically exhausting the opposing Peoples’ Democratic Party and foreign, independent election observers before the rescheduled elections.

There is no way President Muhammadu Buhari can escape the blame for INEC’s shoddy, disgraceful performance having personally handpicked most of the INEC Commissioners.The failure of INEC is totally and squarely President Buhari’s failure. As a pocket dictator he owns this national disaster and embarrassment completely, comprehensibly and irrevocably.

In his desperation to remain in office, he does not give a single hoot about Nigeria’s image or plight, provided he wins re-election by any means possible. He never talks of electoral integrity or fight against electoral corruption. I have not heard him once charge the current INEC or security agents to discharge their duties with integrity, without corruption and without intimidation. Integrity and anti-corruption matter with relation to his electoral opponents butdo not count when it comes to securing his personal political interests.

It is instructive that his own niece by marriage in the person of Amina B Zakari (from the North West geo-political zone) is the Chairman of the INEC Electoral Operations & Logistics Committee. The other members of this committee in order of ranking listed on the INEC website are (2) Air Vice Marshall Ahmed Tijjani Mu’azu (North West). (3) Prince Adedeji Solomon Soyebi (South West). (4) Mohammed Kudu Haruna (North Central). (5) Dr. Muhammed M Lecky (South South), and (6) Prof. Okechukwu O. Ibeanu (South East). They shouldbe fired or re-deployed at the very least.

I gleaned the committee detail listingstoday from the INEC web page under Home \INEC Committees and Chairpersons. A couple of hours later, the same page appears blank on the INEC website. What is INEC hiding? The guilty are always afraid even if no one pursues them.

The sanctimonious Buhari Administrationenjoys a complete choke hold on INEC, the Police, the Army, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Code of Conduct Tribunal, and now the Judiciary inclusive.Purportedly it also has millions of supporters nationwide, if its propaganda is anything to go by.

Why then is it so fearful that it cannot contemplate giving Nigerians an election with integrity ora voting process without corruption?All things being equal on February 23, 2019, we shall find out.

The crass manner with which INEC postponed the 2019 General Elections is symptomatic of the general malaise confronting Nigeria and hints at the root cause of its poverty and backwardness. In civilized countries, there are certain things that are taken for granted come rain or come shine. Things like date of payment of workers, date of payment of contractors, date of completion of contractual projects, date of completion of project assignments etc. All these things are cast in stone and are immutable.

Everyone works to meet these set targets without excuses. Fail to deliver, and you will find yourself without a job. There are no sentiments and there can be no excuses. It is the system. You either deliver or you perish,choose one. It is in Nigeria that you have administrators failing to deliver while citing ample excuses. It is in Nigeria that you find Presidents failing to perform and they are being fanatically considered for a second tenure of four years by vociferous supporters.

. Are we Nigerians out of our minds? Are we laboring under an evil spell? If not then what we should be telling President Buhari with our votes on February 23, 2019 is “Mr. President, you are fired.” No more, no less. Failure must have unpleasant and educative consequences, no matter whose ox is gored. That is the only way we can climb out of poverty.

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Anthony C. Konwea | 2/16/2019 6:45:00 PM
Air Vice Marshall Ahmed Tijjani Mu’azu (North East) was listed in the INEC website. The typo is regretted.