Jega’s finest hour as Nigerian victory

Nigerians have little faith in their institutions. Except perhaps for the church, today headed by prosperity prophets, who have taken over the socio- economic role the state should perform in society; all other institutions are facing crisis of credibility. The bureaucracy is so powerful that it controls the water we drink, the air we breathe, the education of our children; where to live and where to be buried.

Recently, a theft of N5billion pension fund was perpetrated inside the office of the Head of service just as another director in charge of the police, the most important organ of state, stole over N32b. The legislature has become a parasite living on the sweat and blood of those they are elected to protect through humane enacted laws. The judiciary is for the highest bidder. Those who allegedly stole N1.6 trillion are not in chains but in government because the outgoing President Jonathan government says ‘the wheel of justice grinds slowly in Nigeria’. Until now the picture of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), that Nigerians had was that of an umpire that often takes side with one of the competing teams if the price was right.

But with commitment and strength of character, Jega changed that picture leading to the miracle of 28th March 2015. On that day, Nigerians came out in their millions, waited for hours in the sun, others in the rain, determined to cast their vote because unlike the inglorious moment in the First Republic when Chief Remi Fani Kayode said his party would win whether the people voted for it or not, Nigerians trusted Jega and believed their vote would count. He has not let those who put their trust in him down.  For Nigerian, it is the dawn on a new day. For the first time in the history of our nation, an incumbent president was defeated ‘round and square,’ through a process that was so transparent that the President could not have been anything but magnanimous in defeat to promptly congratulate the victor.

The battle against forces of darkness that swore to rule for sixty years or pull the nation down on their head had been fierce.  Jega’s most potent weapons were the millions of Nigerians he was able to convince that sacrificing quality time to secure their PCVs, wait patiently for hours on a queue on the election day refusing to be disfranchised by enemies of our nation, spend their resources to rent generators, canopies, chairs or buy refreshments for their compatriots were worthy endeavours for sustenance of the soul of our nation. Thousands of our young corpers who spent Friday and Saturday nights sleeping in mosquito infested open field and unable to take their bath for two days made the sacrifice because of their faith that Jega’s efforts would bring a better tomorrow.

It is gratifying to know that the current INEC is Nigerian made. It is made up of patriotic individual Nigerians. I was filled with admiration as I watched Kayode Idowu, the chief spokesman for the INEC chairman, who appeared not to have slept for days, educating Nigerians on the need for patience and understanding on Channels Television last Sunday. There were many voting locations with neither INEC officials nor INEC voting materials. But Nigerians remained resolute having realized that INEC was engaged in a battle of wits with those who worked assiduously to ensure its failure. At the end, their resilience and patience paid off. Those who had thought Nigerians especially the middle class would give up after a few hours were disappointed. Many in their sixties and seventies patiently waited on Saturday and those who had roles to perform in their churches on the palm Sunday returned briefly to vote when voting started before returning back to their churches.

The African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) said in preliminary findings that the vote was “conducted in a peaceful atmosphere within the framework that satisfactorily meets the continental and regional principles of democratic elections”. This is a credit to Jega and Nigerians who have faith in him. Except in the south south where militants, both young and old, often resort to self-help and Lagos where enemies of Nigeria were bent on truncating the transition, the election went smoothly everywhere. INEC’s success came after a hard fought battle with formidable foes beginning with the president, his errand boys and errant elders, his attack dogs, PDP Boko Haram insurgents and the Niger Delta militants whose leader Godsday Orubaba, a former minister of Niger Delta put up a show of shame on Tuesday in the full glare of national and international audience in a futile attempt to derail the transition.

Of course Jega survived all his foes including President Jonathan, his greatest detractor who without proof claimed non indigenes in Lagos were being discriminated against by INEC in the distribution of PCVs; PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu told a delegation of Africa Union election observers led by AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Dr. Aisha Abdullahi that his party objected to the use of card readers because  “the machine may not make for credible elections as it is said to easily malfunction especially when the battery is weak”; a former Governor of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, who spoke on behalf of Southern Leaders Forum insisted  there would be no election except Jega quits  and in fact, calls for his sack and arrest. There was also the National co-coordinator of the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) Otunba Gani Adams, who wanted Atthiru Jega removedon the basis of PVC distribution and introduction of card reader’

There were also 15 political parties that opposed the use of the card readers because “if the card reader should develop some technical problems, there is a possibility that the consequences of such development would affect about forty) or fifty percent of the polling booths nationwide. The national chairman of MEGA Progressive Peoples Party, Dare Falade; the presidential candidate of the Peoples Party of Nigeria, Kelvin Alagoa; and the presidential candidate of the Alliance represented them. Rafiu Salau amongst others represented them.

The churches were not left out. There was Bishop Abraham Chris Udeh, the General Overseer of Mount Zion Global Faith Liberation Ministries, Nnewi, Amambra state, who had a vision that Jega must be removed. Buffeted and bedeviled by the typical Nigerian problems, INEC has emerged a new Nigerian successful brand and one institution that have made Nigerians proud. Jega’s joy for ending our long nightmare, I am sure will have no bounds. It is his victory as much as it is Nigerian victory.

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