Jega: Kettle calling pot black

By Sunny Igboanugo on 31/05/2018

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Many Nigerians believe that Attahiru Jega rigged the 2015 presidential election in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari. I’m one of them. Right from the days I began to hear members of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), swearing that Nigeria would cease to exist if anybody tampered with his tenure as the chief umpire of the nation’s electoral body, in the run to the 2015 general elections, my antenna was activated.

It became more so, when it was the selfsame opposition leaders that were pictured trekking to the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in Abuja to demand for Jega’s head on a platter, immediately after the Anambra State governorship election in 2013.

Led by then, National Chairman, Bisi Akande, they had accused then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of conniving with Jega to rob the party of its victory in the election, in favour of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

In fact, the APC alter ego, Asiwaju, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, who was part of the match, had pointedly called on Jega to resign, for failing to conduct a free and fair election. That the same party, was now the one issuing threats of fire and brimstone if the same Jega was removed, was quite indicative of a new-found bed-fellowship, which outcome was never lost on me and discerning Nigerian.

I was never fooled that Jega had sympathy for the APC, neither was I impervious to the fact that he deployed his office to help the party one way or the other. I was never misled to think that it counted for nothing that the war-ravaged Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, recorded almost 100 per cent Permanent Voter Register (PVC), collection whilst peaceful states in the South East and South South, a sure base for incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan were recording almost half of that figure, neither was I blind that Kano never happened.

Don’t think that show, which was put up by Godsday Orubebe prior to the announcement of the result of the presidential election, was a farce. No. He simply did not continue, because he was restrained by Jonathan, who had sworn that his ambition was not worth the drop of blood of any Nigerian, because the end result would have been just that.

Well the argument was that Jonathan could have still lost the election, even with those obvious fraudulent indicators, given the massive onslaught against him in parts of the country. But, it was evident regardless of the would-be outcome, that Jega and his team did not want to take chances and went extra miles to ensure that victory.     

What I really don’t know, is why. Did it have to do with patriotism or activism? It was either that or that the INEC boss was playing the ethnic card, alongside some top PDP Northerners, who deceived Jonathan and worked for the power returning to the North project. I have no way of knowing.

Nevertheless, I had always pondered on the two realities. Coming from an activism side of the Nigerian polity, Jega could have been imbued by patriotism to use his position as the Chairman of INEC to throw out a bad government.

Yes, in this regard, after guzzling and becoming inebriated from the fountain of massive propaganda mounted by the APC that Jonathan, was nothing but a clueless buffoon in government, who threw open the doors to the nation’s treasury for himself, his family, friends, political allies and even passersby, he could have teamed up with colleagues in the nation’s intelligentsia, who openly trumpeted this mantra, to do what he believed was needful.

Who was actually not fooled by those seducing APC orchestra of that time backed up by what some now describe as American thunderbolt?

Yes, it was clear that then US President, Barack Obama, did not only show how far he was willing to go to edge out Jonathan, principally, some say, for not heeding the warning not to sign the anti-gay law, which made same sex an offence that carried a penalty of 14 years, in words, but indeed.

Apart from providing the political muscle covering the international arena, practically put boots on the ground by sending down his own political strategists – the AKPD Message and Media, headed by David Axerold, who practically made a mincemeat of the PDP political architecture.

Not even the UK-based Cambridge Analytica, which, it is now being revealed, was hired to help out the PDP and its candidate, could match the US experts, who, with the local flavour of the Lai Mohammeds, spared nothing including assailing every member of the first family, with their daily lurid and salacious music, which Nigerians not only sang repetitively, but danced to in the streets.

Even our own Wole Soyinka, was not spared in the suffusing din. He once got so fed up with the gory picture of Jonathan’s Aso Rock Villa, as presented by the APC team that in one of the encounters, he angrily depicted Jonathan’s wife, a Shipopotamus, to underscore his revulsion. Who then could blame Jega for equally falling to the APC orchestra?

But events have since changed. Jega’s constituency have started singing a new tune. The tendency from whence his patriotism could have flowed in the instant case, has since recanted, recalibrated their conducts and, or, retuned their utterances. Why not him? That is now the question.

Image result for jega

Indeed, some have come out with not only open regrets, but strong denunciation of what they had helped to create. Others, have maintained some stoic silence that all the same appears to leave few in doubt as to the severity of their inward pains, while others have simply returned to the trenches to redeem the situation.

I had thought that Jega would have fitted into any of these. Initially, I had thought his long silence hitherto, depicts some form of regret. That so, he had become wiser, soberer, more prudent and ultimately, more circumspect with himself and his ideas. That was until his pre-Democracy Day lecture, on Monday, May 28, in Abuja.

In fact, I had looked forward to a return to his activism days as the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), when he caused heavy lacerations on the military authorities, a pedigree, which made him the first choice, when his colleagues, goaded Jonathan, himself, a former university teacher and member of ASUU to pick him for the INEC job.

A pre-INEC Jega, still harbouring the hot and boiling blood of ASUU, obviously, one of the most fearless, open and broadminded organisations in Nigeria, would have used that platform to express his loathing of the one-sided, parochial and provincial architecture of the Buhari government and told the main progenitor, proponent and harbinger, who was sitting there before him how God and good men hate such a structure.

Yes, the Jega of the old era, would have spoken true to the power right before him that the failure to move against the Fulani herdsmen, who had been wreaking havoc across the country is the last thing he expected. Surely, the gory spectacles of uncommon butchery that depict the sheer bestiality and peculiar human carnage in places like Benue State since the break of 2018, could not have escaped his well-trained mind as a a modern time reenactment of the holocaust of the second world war. 

Therefore, he would have not minced words in calling for justice, equity and fair-play and in so doing, disproved there and then the President’s claim that Fulani herdsmen of today, still kept to their tradition of "moving about with sticks and cutlasses, with which they clear the way and cut grasses, which they feed to their cows," instead of AK-47-wielding killing machines they have turned out.

Again, he would have held the President and his team, before him accountable for the massive pillaging of the nation’s commonwealth still going on unchecked today, and would have let them know that nothing depicts the worst form of double-speak than keeping quiet about it, whilst haranguing, hounding and clamping down on the opposition.

But what did we have? He went for the soft target – the National Assembly. Like many before him, who see the NASS as the aching tooth, which when pulled out, would kill the pain of the mouth, he spared no words in calling the lawmakers out, knowing they have been reduced to the axiomatic toothless dogs.

It probably did not occur to him or he simply pretended not to know that whatever malfeasance or infraction of the lawmakers, is, but, a tiny fraction of the official sleaze perpetrated by the executive.

To him, the supposed bribery the legislators collect to clear political appointees or pass the budget or their much-advertised crazy salaries and allowances are bigger sins and more destructive than the wild tale of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that Nigerians now consume 650million litres from the 300, three years before.

It didn't seem to occur to him that the numbers coming out from that astronomical, impossible and corruption-ridden jump alone, in terms of the amount in subsidy the agency claims it is paying therefrom, could far outweigh whatever goes to the NASS members in one year. No, it does not matter, as long as the NASS remained the butt of some tendencies within the polity, to be used as a punching bag of political correctness.

But few people are now deceived with this apparent shadow-chasing. Instead, many are now convinced that the boyish innocence and urbane countenance Jega conjures in his public outings, is merely an elaborately-crafted façade that hides a somewhat proclivity to succumb to vested interests.

It is even bad when such interests serve ethnic purposes, and worse when he becomes a patron and purveyor of such interests. 

It therefore serves no useful purpose that he should continue to advertise his sanctimonious evangelisation. It is bad enough that you skewed a process and truncated the will of the people, no matter how noble your intention(s) and worse that you, with straight face, scold others for an obviously more minute offence, same as the biblical attempt to removing the specks in your friend's eyes, with a log in yours. At best, it is the kettle calling the pot black.

For me, if Jega cannot direct his diatribes to the right quarters, to wit, the rot he created, he should stop speaking.

Igboanugo, a journalist, lives in Abuja.          




Posted on May, 31 2018

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