Wednesday, 6 April 2011

NIGERIA: AFTERMATH OF BOTCHED ELECTION:

ABUJA – CHAIRMAN of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, has come under intense fire from President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the National Security Adviser, NSA, General Azazi (rtd) over the postponement of last Saturday’s national legislative elections.
It was gathered that they expressed their displeasure late Saturday night during the meeting of the National Security Council, NSC, to which Jega was invited.
Meanwhile, Vanguard is in possession of a document purporting to explain how the INEC boss landed his job with the unsuspecting help of the opposition in the country, specifically the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, ably aided by the government of the United States of America, USA, through its embassy in Nigeria.
This is also said to be creating more concern  not only for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, leadership which had been expressing some form of discomfort in Jega’s handling of affairs of the electoral process, but also some other political parties that believe they have a chance of a good shot at the Presidency.
Vanguard also gathered that barring any last minute hitches, General Muhammadu Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, may enter into a pact that would see both parties working together for the presidential election slated for April 16.
NSC meeting and Jonathan’s anger
At the NSC meeting which had in attendance heads of the security and intelligence agencies in attendance (including the Police), President Jonathan’s anger was said to have been very obvious as he reportedly expressed a deep sense of disappointment.
A source very close to the meeting told Vanguard: “The President was very angry with the INEC chairman and this was very obvious. But that was not even the main thing. Mr. President and those in attendance at the meeting wanted Jega to come out clean and sought to know whether he did not know that the non arrival or late arrival of the result sheets were capable of forcing a postponement.
“Even the wasted billions of naira both in terms of logistics and security arrangements made the President angrier. In fact, the NSA, General Azazi, on whose head the burden of ensuring coordinated national security fell, recounted how the sleepless nights of officers and personnel have suddenly come to nought with the postponement, just as it was noted that more would now have to be done in the face of the postponement because of what was described as leakages that may have occurred.
Entire materials for elections
The INEC chairman explained that the entire materials for the presidential elections would arrive in the country by Thursday this week – having only re-awarded the contract for the presidential election materials last Thursday.
Vanguard gathered that Jega’s response to the meeting was scoffed at. The source said: “When the INEC Chairman said he was sure and confident that the materials for the presidential elections would arrive in the country by Thursday, he was immediately asked whether that was not the same confidence he exuded last Friday when he addressed the nation about the level of preparedness of his commission.”
Vanguard, however, gathered that the meeting, after looking at the laws and the electoral process, gave a nod for a postponement of a week to each of the elections.
This, it was gathered, was with a view to ensuring that INEC does not in any way disappoint Nigerians again. Vanguard was made to understand that the brave face put up by President Jonathan during his first reaction to the postponement, even appearing to be defending the commission was merely with a view not to betray his emotions as well as keep the integrity of the commission in place.
The source said: “Had President Jonathan also pilloried Jega in the open, other pieces of information that are now being worked on may be misinterpreted.”
How Jega landed INEC job, with help of opposition
Vanguard discovered that on March 29, 2011, between 2320 and 0040 hrs, at the National Secretariat of the CPC on Akinkumi Street, Utako District, Abuja, a meeting was held by the leadership of the party. One of the leaders of the party had reported to the meeting which had eight people, including a female, in attendance that “Mr. President must be regretting now for appointing Jega as the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.”
Director General of the Buhari Presidential Campaign Council, Dr. Sule Yahaya Hamma, who was in attendance at the meeting, along with Mustapha Salihu, Dep. National Chairman; Engr. Buba Galadinma, National Secretary; and Colonel Hamid Ali (rtd) Chief of Staff to General Buhari, among others, “revealed intimating Mallam Adamu Ciroma (of the Northern Political Leaders’ Forum, NPLF) that it was not Mr. President that nominated Jega for the INEC appointment.”
Vanguard learnt that this was done by their group, through a Nigerian female believed to be a sister to Mr. President, and the United States of America, USA, embassy in Nigeria, after which three short listed names were presented.
The names presented included those of Jega, Ibrahim Madaki and Bukhari Bello. “While explaining how Jega was appointed,”Vanguard learnt, “Hamma maintained that it was the USA embassy in Nigeria that was used to pressurize Mr. President to eventually ‘pick’ Jega.
“He reiterated that the government is presently regretting not appointing Bello instead at that point in time, to which he believed would also have been to the detriment of the government as in his view, Bello has a tougher disposition.”
Just before the high wire politicking and pressure that was brought to bear before Jega was finally announced as President Jonathan’s choice for the INEC job, Vanguard had exclusively gathered on Tuesday, June 1, 2010, that Bukhari Bello may get the job. However, upon serious pressure, his name was dropped.
At the CPC meeting of last Tuesday, Salihu reportedly “drew the attention of Galadinma to a remark he recalled was made by the IRI that the government of the USA is putting USA embassy in Nigeria under pressure to support Mr. President, wondering the sudden change on the position of the USA government on Buhari.
“He averred that the new thinking of the government of the USA on Buhari  may be informed by religious alliance between the government of the USA with Mr. President, or the fear that a Buhari presidency may not support the siphoning of Nigeria’s petroleum products by the Americans.”
But this was countered by Hamma, who was of “the notion that the USA government may not have changed its position on Buhari, and contended that they have maintained close communication with the USA government over the past eight years.”
Buhari, ACN, in last minute consensus talks
It was at the same meeting that the issue of the consensus arrangement being worked out between the CPC and the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, was discussed.
A former President, along with Ciroma “and two other unnamed participants, on behalf of Buhari, the issue of alliance between the CPC and the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, was a central subject of discussion.”
Vanguard learnt that the CPC expects to win, looking ahead to winning a minimum of 17 and a maximum of 18 states in the northern part of the country alone.
Speaking further at the meeting, Hamma “pointed out that Babangida and Ciroma also wanted to know the major problems between the CPC and the Ahmed Bola Tinubu (ACN) over the planned alliance between the CPC and the ACN.
“He recalled responding that the major point of what they have against the issue is that the CPC does not have absolute trust in Tinubu. He disclosed that what has been agreed upon is that if the agreement by both CPC and the ACN is eventually signed which is (planned for after the April 2 (9) election), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau would be withdrawing from the 2011 presidential election some days before the presidential race, some days before the presidential election.
“Hamma disclosed that the former President admitted that the general feeling of some Nigerians, particularly the PDP, is the possibility for a second round presidential run-off election, which the CPC could even end at once on April 9 (16), 2011, by taking the PDP unawares such that the presidential election could end at first run in favour of the CPC.
“Galadinma was, however, of the view that if the general elections would be credible, free and fair, the CPC may not need the support of the ACN.”

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