Ekiti, Osun Elections: Litmus Test For Jega

As Ekiti and Osun gubernatorial elections draw nearer by the day it’s important to continue to hammer it home for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega and his Commission the need for free, fair and credible polls in these two states.

This call becomes very imperative in view of the credibility problem the Commission suffers from owing to the wishy-washy manner it conducted the Anambra state gubernatorial election last year November which made the outcome of that election unacceptable to the people.

The whole world knew what happened in the case of Anambra where INEC wobbled and fumbled in the conduct of the election of just a single state and ever since that poor outing the body has not gotten opportunity to redeem her battered image. Thus for people to rebuild the confidence they had in the Commission for her impressive showing in the conduct of the 2011 general elections the coming elections in Ekiti and Osun offer the Commission a great opportunity which it cannot afford to bungle.

No doubt the eyes of the whole world are set on the coming gubernatorial elections in these two states and surely for INEC the elections will prove to be a litmus test having come out with a soiled image from the Anambra gubernatorial election. This is the reason the Commission cannot afford to fail. In these two states INEC must work hard and be sincere enough to meet the expectations of the people apropos delivery of credible election results.

And it’s important to stress it here again that the process of having a free, fair and credible election starts with a credible Voters Register. Without a credible VR then any intended election is doomed. Professor Jega’s INEC must not forget that it failed to meet the expectations of the people in the case of the Anambra governorship poll due to the irregularities in the VR of that state.

Therefore to avoid a repeat of the failure  the Commission recorded in Anambra it must correct all irregularities in the VRs of Ekiti and Osun before the commencement of the elections because presently, there are complaints about irregularities in the Voters Registers of these two states. And let INEC not believe that it has much time. Of course it will be erroneous to hold such an opinion because these coming two elections are just a stone throw away in term of time; the reason why the Commission must waste no time in correcting whatever anomalies in the VRs of these states.

Two reasons are important for mention why Professor Jega cannot afford to fail in the elections of these two states. For one these elections provide opportunity for the respected Professor not only to redeem his Commission’s image but his own image too which has been negatively affected by the shoddy manner his lieutenants conducted the Anambra governorship poll. The way the coming elections are conducted will go a long way in determining Professor Jega’s and his INEC’s future. It will determine whether Nigerians will still trust him to conduct the 2015 general elections.

For the reason above Jega must ensure the credibility of these coming two elections. He must not only ensure a level playing field for all the participating political parties in the would-be-elections, he must be seen to do so. And the second reason why Jega cannot afford to disappoint the people is also because of the volatile nature of these two states. Thus any attempt by INEC to fumble in the conduct of any of the coming two elections then it will surely lead to people’s revolt with dire consequences for the nation.

And it’s a good thing that Professor Jega – in his characteristic candour – having owned to the shortcomings of his Commission in the conduct of the Anambra governorship poll, has also promised to deliver free and fair elections in these two states. Thus the whole world is looking up to him to make good his promise. Therefore the onus is on him to deliver on his promise if he still wants the people to have confidence in him. And he needs it. He needs to rebuild people’s confidence in him like the situation was before the Anambra shabby experience.

I will not complete this piece without appreciating Professor Attahiru Jega’s admission of deficiency in the handling of Anambra governorship election by his Commission. I think his humility, sense of candour and sense of responsibility deserve to be applauded. For this is about the first time in the annals of this country that a personage – at that leadership level – would come out to admit failure on the part of his Commission.

With that Jega has proven to be a good example which our other leaders must learn to emulate. As humans we are bound to make mistakes because we are not perfect. Thus when mistakes occur and we own to it it’s not cowardice; it’s a mark of courage. For it takes courage and humility to admit one’s mistake. But to pose contrariwise is to arrogate the quality of infallibility to one’s self and this is arrogance. Of course infallibility exclusively belongs to God.

Thus unlike his predecessor who conducted the worst elections in this country and still had the audacity to be boasting around that he gave the country the best elections, Professor Jega deserves a pat on the back for summoning the courage to say the truth on the Anambra election even though people had expected him to cancel that election outrightly and organise a fresh one.

Finally, since Jega stood his ground in the case of Anambra that the errors associated with the election were not substantial enough to warrant total cancellation and as he preferred to order fresh elections only in the affected areas, then the coming Ekiti and osun elections offer him and his Commission a great opportunity to prove to the world that truly, the Anambra experience was a correctable human error. Whether Jega ‘s INEC will correct the error or repeat the same mistake, Ekiti and Osun will tell.