Friday 20 May 2011

Editorial: Shedding no tears for INEC staff

Working with bad tools

If anything, one can only commend Professor Attahiru Jega the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission for presiding over the April elections the best he could despite the constraints he had.

He was bequeathed a rotten and corrupt organisation he never had the opportunity to overhaul considering the short time he had to prepare and conduct the elections.

However, the subtle but radical ideas he implemented made for elections that were quite free, generally fair and acceptably credible from the deployment of members of the National Youth Service Corps as ad-hoc staff, the voters’ registration exercise requiring fingerprint identification to eliminate multiple registrations and the use of eminent Nigerians as chief collation officers to spread the burden of responsibility and integrity.

Working the imperfect

The whole process was almost totally sabotaged by incumbent INEC staff that he inherited because they were denied the scope to operate and suborn the system; many times he had to redeploy or even sack staff to ensure that the process was not compromised.

Now, on the whole it was not perfect but it would be unfair to berate the chief in the circumstances he found himself in.

It is however interesting to read that INEC staff are unhappy with their boss for not giving them opportunities to perform their duties which they should have been allowed to do if they did have a track record of honest and impeachable service in the conduct of previous elections.

Given the chance, they messed up

When they did get an opportunity to do all the work in the states where the elections were postponed, it was a debacle celebrating a farce which made the work of the ad-hoc and amateur staff employed before seem both professional and sterling.

Besides the news story, all the comments numbering almost 70 did not find any scope for sympathy for the INEC staff, their actions have done Nigeria down, put us to shame and left many pessimistic of the possibility of credible elections until Professor Jega found ways to side-track and tame their malevolence.

If the INEC staff feel so aggrieved, they should resign, they deserve no sympathy whatsoever.

Acknowledgements ran the story about INEC staff being unhappy with Jega.

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