Even though it is still within the realm of speculation, the news report that the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, may have courted the wrath of the powers-that-be is not altogether doubtful. Indeed, there may be people within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who may want him crucified for some of his perceived ‘sins.’
For those who know about the intrigues involved in top-level politics and the modus operandi of the self-acclaimed largest political party in Africa, anyone that stands between them and their interest would have to face the music.
According to the reports, serious allegations are being leveled against Jega bordering on corruption and threat to national security because he was being suspected to have connived with others to register two new parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM).
Certainly the surreptitious registration of PDM, hitherto a prominent and influential component of the PDP, and that of the so-called Voice of the People (VOP), believed to have been sponsored by the five or six rebellious governors of the PDP, must have embarrassed the government and leaders of the party.
One doesn’t need to be intelligent to know that it is like chopping off a large chunk of the PDP and giving them the legitimacy to fight within and from outside the party. It is therefore wrong to assume that the registration of these two parties is more of a loss to the All Progressives Congress (APC) than to PDP. The APC has certainly lost potential converts but when the chips are down, during the crucial election for power at the center, supporters of PDM and VOP are more likely to cast their protest votes for the candidate of the party.
The registration of the APC, a conglomeration of some opposition parties that seeks to wrestle power from it, was certainly enough headaches for the PDP. That registration was at a point actually doubtful in spite of the new party’s credentials that made it inevitable.
Based on their acerbic criticisms it was clear that left to PDP leaders the APC would not see the light of day as INEC had the right not to register it. In point of fact, this kind of thing had happened before. In the Second Republic the Progressive Peoples Party (PPP), floated by the “progressive governors” of the defunct UPN, NPP, GNPP and PRP, was refused registration by an electoral commission that kowtowed to the government.
Now, one can understand the discomfort of PDP leaders with the sudden registration of the PDM and VOP. Coupled with its internal crisis, this was much more than even the largest party in Africa could stomach. Without discounting the possibility, the notion that the government is behind the proliferation of parties to serve its purpose of splitting the Northern vote is suspect to me.
However, by any stretch of the imagination one cannot fathom out how that pressure group was registered without the hullabaloo that greeted APC’s registration. From all indications, not even the high command in the PDP was aware that something like that was in the works. There were indeed media reports a few days to the event, that the PDM was seeking registration. But this was quickly refuted by no less a person than the leader of the group and former vice-president Atiku Abubakar.
Thus the announcement of PDM’s registration came to the nation as a bolt from the blue. Its secrecy however smacked of a conspiracy; forget about VOP, its own registration is all part of the game (congrats though to VOP, for becoming a “brief case party”!).
Nevertheless, to think that INEC could be part of a conspiracy to register a party or increase their number for a political purpose leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. I mean if you could get involved in one conspiracy you could get involved in another plot, and that calls for concern and fear for 2015.
But what is more frightening right now is the suspected threat to Jega by those who are irked by INEC’s action. If this is true, will the man buckle under the pressure and play ball with them to save his neck? Or will he stand up like a man and live up to his reputation as a man of principle? It will certainly be a crucial test for Jega’s conscience, and only time will tell how he is going to use it.
Mohammed wrote in from Hotoro, Tarauni LGA, Kano (email@example.com).