Information available to 247ureports.com obtained through competent sources knowledgeable of the activities inside the executive offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] indicates that the INEC executive team are operating under significant distress that may disrupt the smooth conduct of the upcoming 2015 general elections. The INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega and the eleven national commissioners including the Directors are at daggers-drawn over unresolved issues that threatens disenfranchisement of select geopolitical regions.
At the center of the brewing quarrel is what appears to be a growing suspicion from some of the Commissioners and Directors of southern extraction towards the INEC Chairman and the other Commissioners of northern extraction. The suspicion, according to one of the Commissioners who spoke to our reporter, is principally based on Professor Jega’s unexplained eagerness to adopt policies favorable to the expansion of the northern geopolitical region’s voting strength. The commissioner pointed to the botched attempt by Prof Jega’s at arbitrarily increasing the polling units in the geopolitical regions of the north. “We had to fight the Chairman to the point of shouting match”, explained the Commissioner who continued that the Chairman seemed “determined to increase the polling units, and would not listen to any of us at the several closed door meetings. Instead he told us that only a court decision will stop him from increasing the polling units”.
The INEC Chairman was unable to deliver on his arbitrary quest. After a month of internal struggles with his lieutenants, the INEC Chairman dropped the idea reluctantly and grudgingly. Prof Jega, as a result of his inability to carry out his agenda decided to shutout the protesting Commissioners responsible to faulting the agenda. “He stopped talking to them [commissioners from the south]”. The relationship among the commissioners took a regional face with the southern commissioners suspicious of the northern commissioners who appear to have formed a click with the Chairman – along religious lines.
The northern commissioners including the Chairman – are seven  in number while the southern commissioners are only five .
The cold relationship worsened with the commencement of the distribution of the permanent voters card [PVC]. The distribution, according to the commissioner led to near physical confrontation between one of Jega’s close ally, Dr. Mohammad Wali [Chairman of Tender’s Board] from Sokoto and one of the commissioners from the south. It was revealed that the ‘shouting-match’ ensued as the modalities for the distribution by the INEC was marshalled out to the agents on the field – instructing that the PVCs should be delivered to the various INEC offices at the Local Government Area headquarters for the registered voters to pick up/collect – with the presentation of a valid identification card. The southern commissioner discovered that the rules for the distribution for the PVCs were different for the northern geopolitical regions – the rules were relaxed to enable easy distribution of the PVCs to the populace.
According to the commissioner, the PVCs dispatched to Gombe, Kebbi, Zamfara, Bauchi, Jigawa, Sokoto, Yobe, Kano, Plateau, Nasarawa, Katsina and Kaduna [12 states] were accompanied by an agent of Dr. Wali. The PVCs were not delivered to the INEC officer at the local government headquarters – rather it was registered at the INEC office at the local government headquarters and then delivered to the local chiefs and local Imams to complete the distribution to the masses. The PVCs were then recorded as having been collected by registered voters. As at January 7, 2015, INEC data showed that 83% of the registered voters in the 12 states have collected their PVCs. [See table below]
In the remainder of the States where the PVCs were delivered/dumped at the INEC office at the local government headquarters for onward distribution – a much lower percentage of PVCs collected were reported. In Lagos, Edo, Abuja, Enugu, Anambra, Ogun, Oyo and Ondo, only 57% of the PVCs have been collected. [See table below]
When the commissioners and directors got wind of the development and what appeared a structured discrepancy on the part of the INEC Chairman and the commissioners working in cohorts with him, they cried foul. Some of the commissioners took their frustrations to the desk of the President through alternate means – warning the President that ‘something was eerie’ in the manner the INEC chairman was readying for the February 14 polls. According to the source, the group of concerned officers within the INEC were successful in getting their concerns across to the presidency. “The president was shocked and visibly angry in utter disbelief” said the source who continued that the president then ordered for an immediate update on the status of PVC distribution. “What he saw confirmed what the commissioners had told him”.
The commissioner went on to state that it was the concerned commissioners who advised the President to consider seeking for a postponement of the election date from February 14 to sometime in April – without subverting existing electoral laws. The commissioner claimed that they advised the President to seek for shift in date in order to properly distribute the PVCs in a fashion that would ensure that up to 90% of the PVCs are distributed to the registered voter. Presently, only 71% of the PVCs have been collected nationwide. Presently, 15.6million registered voters are yet to collect their PVCs.
Meanwhile, Jega remains adamant that the date of February 14 will not be moved. In a statement to Journalists on January 23, he indicated that the PVC distribution will continue till the eve of the presidential election. The INEC Chairman expressed worry over the attitude of many eligible voters who have failed to show up to collect their voters card noting that the Commission should not be blamed when voters fail to collect their PVCs. “Yes we can even allow for the distribution of PVCs up to the eve of election day which is February 13 2015 but it will be good for voters to come and collect their PVC as soon as possible”.
Jega’s insistence comes against suggestions from the security service chiefs and the national security adviser – over the slow pace of PVC distribution and its implications to national security. His insistence has become a point of concern to many within the security circles who had once viewed Prof Jega as an upright incorruptible personality who was expected to understand the sensitive and volatile political climate in the country presently. A retired service chief who shared his concern with 247ureports.com did not shy away from labeling the body language of Jega and his refusal to level the playing field across all geopolitical regions as “highly tribalistic and unbecoming of a man like him”
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