Monday 16 March 2009

Nigeria: Electoral reform starts with Iwu pensioned off

Unable to keep ones peace

I think I have now reached the conclusion that if Nigerians ever learn discretion and acquire the ability to resist fulminating they would no more be Nigerian but of another faraway country. The high social art of being able to keep ones peace is well beyond us.

It should already be a completely forgone conclusion that the ‘so-called’ Independent National Electoral Commission is in need of radical root-and-branch reform [1].

The President in his tardy and soporific exigency [2], a misnomer in terms, at least agrees that much should be done even though there are disputes as to how it should be done.

More pain the in the INEC

Of all democratic agencies in Nigeria INEC stands out as the one that has most undermined the basic principles of democracy by returning flawed results by reason of rank incompetence and incomprehensible cant emanating from the chairman of the commission.

The competence of the commission and the adequacy of the same under the leadership of Professor Maurice Iwu has received such a battering with the annulment and over-turning of many elections in the courts and tribunals, by July 2008, 11 governorship elections [3] out of 36 had been annulled; one contest finally got resolved a good 20 months after the elections with the INEC declared winner deposed.

I can think of no other organisation that might have suffered the ignominy of having its activities questioned, opposed, subjected to severe sanction and repudiated so much that the leadership of the organisation can without dignity, honour or self-respect still growl with hubris.

Truth and abuse

At a book launch last week [4] that entertained a former Head of State, a governor and a former minister, comments were made to the effect that “INEC as presently constituted, is illegitimate”; one would contend that there is probable cause to voice such a sentiment.

The former Head of State then said “the proposed electoral reforms in the country would be baseless if INEC was not totally overhauled”; one could hardly quarrel about that either – the disgrace of elections conducted in April 2007 left Nigeria tongue-tied when rotten elections were conducted in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Rather than let these seemingly inconsequently comments go, the publicity machinery of INEC decided to blow its own trumpet and castigate these personalities by suggesting they should “avoid the path of eccentricity and crass partisanship in their public comments”.

If I did not have a sturdy chair to sit in I would have fell over with laughter at the cant and flagrant effrontery of the reaction, it does beggar belief.

Mirror, Mirror

But then, I would suppose empty barrels do have to make the most noise and having lashed out vehemently at the personalities INEC then feigned great offence by saying the comments were “uncharitable, deplorable and condemnable”.

INEC should really be looking in the mirror because their conduct of the 2007 elections [5] was uncharitable because they were deemed unfair and not credible, they were deplorable and should be deplored for the unpreparedness and lack of organisation and were condemnable for that fact that after all the elections annulled they definitely did not express the will of the Nigerian electorate.

They asserted they would have kept their peace but for the personalities involved they could not resist the urge to respond to these highly partisan and self–serving outbursts which makes one wonder if the results returned in 2007 by INEC were not highly partisan in favour of the ruling party and their current response is in no way self-serving.

Bragging without restraint

Not if you read other copy that suggested the Professor Iwu is to be sacked in June [6] only to hear the man himself brimming with confidence and the braggadocio of a silverback in full jungle tearaway declare that he cannot be sacked [7] except through some arcane but convoluted process.

As he addressed a lecture of senior policy personnel, I find that I cannot in anyway paraphrase his retort than to quote him verbatim [8].

“It has not occurred to those who want the rule bent that the Chairman of the Commission has the same protection like the President of the Federal Republic and governors because we are all product of the same constitution and which cannot be treated in isolation and they know that I have tenure.

It is only when I commit a crime and I am impeached, not hounded by anybody; no matter how and that is why I did not resign and I would not resign.

When people demand that I resign, I refused because that would have been the most unpatriotic thing to do; if I am not able to solve the problem, then I can contemplate resignation, but I am more than equal to solving the problem. I have no doubt about that”.

So, he suggests he has the wherewithal to deliver the reforms necessary to overhaul INEC and make it a credible electoral body, he will not resign – for Nigerians, once bitten must make us twice shy.

We all have serious doubts

Whilst he might have no doubts, we all have doubts, the people have doubts, the judges have doubts, and even the erstwhile president for the sake of comment had doubts when he said the elections were far from perfect – Can Professor Iwu read the runes or has he overdosed on the delusionary congratulations? He happens to be a pharmacist.

To give this man another opportunity to sell our democratic mandate to the highest bidder such that what would count in the end would not be the votes of the people but the votes of the justices, if we ever find justice and fairness is to sacrifice the nation to retrogressive forces that would condemn the country to oblivion.

He might yet have more of a chance to breath but his tenure of unbeatable opprobrium must end yesterday if not the day before.

Only such incompetence can revel in atrocious hypocrisy and stand shamelessly tall in utter ignominy without reflection, remorse or contrition – Nigeria deserves better and it must by all that is good in this world get better by persuasion or coercion – by all means – Professor Iwu must be pensioned off.


[1] BBC NEWS | Africa | Nigeria's 'slow' election reform

[2] BBC NEWS | Africa | Nigeria's 'Baba-go-slow' one year on

[3] Nigeria court annuls 11th state governor election

[4] Electoral Reform: INEC blasts Buhari, David-West, Oshiomhole

[5] Nigerian general election, 2007 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[6] Daily Trust - The Online Edition - Iwu to be sacked in June

[7] Vanguard Online Edition - Nobody can sack me — Iwu

[8] Vanguard Online Edition - Maurice Iwu and his critiques (sic)

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