Prof Jega and 2011 Elections Budget: Money-Pocketing Or Vote-Count Opportunity?

While there is plenty of reason to celebrate the end of the tenure of an unelected regime, and the apparent electoral rejection of northern-pasand politics, in purely qualitative terms the nature of our politics remains largely the same as pre-2011. While the ruling party (PDP) has shed some of its high-profile criminal party stalwarts, the INEC did not. The commission has kept habouring corrupt umpires who hinder Nigeria’s electoral system from the kind of ‘reforms’ and ‘internal democracy’ it deserves. INEC has become anathema to both party and electorate supremos. Meanwhile, though the right-wing Prof (Attahiru Jega) has won the national Assembly’s heart upon recommendation; there is little reason to believe that the INEC credo will no longer be a powerful factor in the 2011 political and electoral arena.

While a strong social mobilization seems to have emerged in rejecting indicted politicians as a result of court-cases, there is mobilization to be carried through over the next decade for the campaign to yield a lasting political legacy. In short, now that elections is near and alliance anticipated , voting-score values is expected to come through a landslide majority, can the public rest easy? Far from it.! And that is democracy – a process through which a government, no matter how heavily mandated by the people, is still held accountable day after day through checks and balances in which public consciousness, a working national assembly, and a fiercely independent media must play their role. If the past performances of the INEC bosses in the person of Abel Guobadia (now late) and that of Prof.Maurice Iwu are anything to go by, election promises will likely be forgotten, the administration will once again be influenced by partisan bias, corruption will likely become rampant, and extra-judicial deaths will continue.

Nigeria has only just entered into the speed-lane on its journey to attain democracy. It is a veritable triumph to emerge from the uncertainty of the INEC but formidable challenges lie ahead should the INEC chairman issue a death-warrant against the 2011 election if the whooping sum of money he quarterly demand to expedite that election is not given to him. The voters’ cards issued to those who were registered would only last for a maximum of two months but would last longer if laminated, why must Prof Jega ask for another money to do plastic card, which he could had applied for earlier? If the commission had registered 67.7 voters in the last exercise and already working on a timetable to continue with the voters’ registration immediately after the April general elections, who are they going to use it for?.Should the exercise repeat itself after 10 years, why are we bothering to capture those who may had reached the voting age after the last exercise.

Few days ago, Prof. Jega told the Senator Isiaka Adeleke-led committee that INEC would need another N450 million to cover donations and gifts to some agencies that already made presentations for sponsorship of capacity building workshops and seminars. Why is he asking for the money installmentally? If the commission spends about N181 million on fueling and lubricants in addition to another N45 million on generators and plant for the 2011 fiscal year, does it mean the commission expenditure is not included in the 2011 government budget? If the commission spends N22 million on local training, who pays the INEC staff salaries? Why should N270 million be reserved for foreign training when there is every facilities here to hire expatriate to train our local workforce. Another N180 million meant for local travel just as it would need N135 million for foreign tours is baseless and uncalled for. A professor of Attahiru’s caliber must have known that he should have put request just once and not this baseless instalmental proforma request. It is revealing his incompetence.

Prof. Jega told the Senate committee that the slash in the commission’s 2011 budget was done by the Budget Office without consultation with the electoral body .But where is he when N51 billion earlier proposed was collected. All these monies meant to put INEC in better position? Or to deliver a credible elections in April?… Haba! Uncle Jega! I don’t want to believe that you are incompetent. Collecting billions of naira at every turn will not solve your personal problem. I hope you are keeping proper record the impress running into 100s of billion in naira you have collected so far for the April 2011 project. We wouldn’t want the EFCC to publicly embarrass anybody at some stage. A stable Nigeria for our children is much more than that. Ask experienced project managers; a project can not be Fast, Better and Cheap. If you want it fast and better – is not going to be cheap. Cheap and fast is not going to be better. Better and cheap is not going to be … (you know). Please try and educate yourself about the underline numbers before making any uninformed comments. Moreover, Nigeria IS EXPENSIVE. Everything in Nigeria is imported. The problem is deeper than INEC project. Trust me I’ve been there. Jega is still doing is best. Get rid of your negativities and allow positive things to happen in Nigeria. THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST ELECTION EVER.

Jega is manifesting incompetence. He collected about N90b for the conduct of the 2011 elections. Next he asked for N6b for a one-week extension of the voter’s registration. When budgeting for the registration of the voters, didn’t it occur to him that he will issue laminated cards to include tis cost in his initial budget? On the issue of conducting another voter’s registration in 10years, it will be better that INEC makes this a regular exercise that anyone can conveniently walk into the nearest INEC office and have his/her name registered on reaching 18. That should be better and more stress free.

A professor that is tired of holding and seeing chalk, you want him to retire back to chalk again? Why didn’t he apply for the CBN governor; where he will mint money and pocket as much as he would like? This is getting out of human sense of reasoning. Billion of Nairas has turned peanut in this country. Look at how Billions of Naira are being demanded. The 67.7 people claimed to be registered is not at all true except if it includes other inhabitants. With the kind of old and written-off equipments used it is false. Let them prove us wrong.

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