Efforts by the presidency to force the Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC) chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, to proceed on terminal
leave by March 1 and thus prevent him from conducting the forthcoming
general elections may have hit the rocks.
A source in INEC told LEADERSHIP
yesterday that the former university don and lecturers’ union boss
would be in saddle to conduct the elections on the new dates of March 28
and April 11, this year.
Jega, who the presidency deems too independent-minded, was under
intense pressure to throw in the towel prior to the Council of State
meeting held at the presidential villa, Abuja, last week, in order to
pave the way for a more pliable person to conduct the polls. Jega’s
tenure ends in June.
Sources close to some of President Goodluck Jonathan’s inner circle
have said that although Jega has shifted the date of the polls, the
forces to get him out are still at work.
LEADERSHIP recalls that some of Jonathan allies, including his
kinsman and political godfather, Chief Edwin Clark, had accused the
electoral boss of conniving with the opposition All Progressives
Congress (APC) against the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead
of the polls.
Clark, a First Republic politician, had called for his resignation a few weeks back.
Apart from Clark, the senior special assistant to the president on
public affairs, Doyin Okupe, and the national publicity secretary of the
PDP, Olisa Metuh, had also accused Jega of acting the script of the
APC, saying he lacks the moral right to conduct the polls.
But speaking to LEADERSHIP yesterday, INEC’s director of voter
education and publicity, Barrister Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, declared that
Jega would conduct the polls rescheduled for March 28 and April 11,
2015, and that he was focused on the task of ensuring free, fair and
Osaze-Uzzi added that the INEC chairman had given reasons upon which
he would resign from office, noting that the focus of the commission was
to make the forthcoming elections better than that of 2011.
Following the postponement of the elections, there have been
insinuations that Jega, whose tenure expires in June this year, might be
forced to go on a three-month terminal leave in line with the civil
But Osaze-Uzzi said, “The rumour has been there for a while. And at
the last press briefing, Jega addressed the issue of how he would
resign. He gave conditions upon which he will resign.”
On whether the professor will conduct the elections, he said, “He
(Jega) will conduct the polls. It is just like when I hear rumours about
resigning my job, I will just concentrate on my job. I am sure that is
the same attitude he has to the job.”