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New INEC boss emerges next week

From left: President Goodluck Jonathan with a senior official of the French government and the Nigerian Ambassador to France, Mr. Gordon Bristol, at the Nice Airport, France, yesterday.

By Daniel Idonor in France

NICE—AS Nigerians await the appointment of a new Chairman for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, said he has nominated a Nigerian whom he had not seen before to take up the plum job.

The President, who declared that he was not interested in who became the next President, said he was only interested in the decision of the majority of Nigerians through the ballot paper and not through the feelings of very few people who were bent on ensuring that they determined who would be the next president.

He said: “I don’t care who becomes the next President of Nigeria, but what I am interested in is for Nigerians to decide through the voting process.”

Addressing the Nigerian community in France at the WestMinster Hotel in Nice, Jonathan said that the final screening for a new INEC Chairman was concluded on Saturday night, and would be unveiled for Nigerians next Tuesday when the National Council of State, NCS, was expected to ratify the nomination.

Jonathan said though he had neither seen nor met the new appointee all his life, but from the report of the screening, the new man could posses the needed energy and zeal to conduct credible elections that could stand the test of time.

Speculation by Nigerian media

He said that none of those being speculated by the Nigerian media came close to the identity of the man that would eventually emerge, noting that throughout his career as civil servant and politician he never met with the lucky Nigerian.

The President who arrived the Nice International Airport at 3.00 p.m. (local time) narrated how the names of possible nominees (State Commissioners) proposed and submitted to him by some governors for consideration were jettisoned simply because of his desire to give the best to Nigerians.

Jonathan noted that after the stabilization of the nation’s polity, one of his priorities was  how to conduct credible elections for Nigerians, adding that he hoped to achieve this by giving it all it takes for the nation to get it right for the first time, in terms of elections where every vote counts.

The President, however, disagreed with a section of the population which was calling for a wholesome reform of the electoral reforms, arguing that his interest at the moment was  to punish anybody who offended the laws of the game by setting up an Electoral Offenders Commission which will prosecute all those who specialize in rigging elections in the country.

He warned that never again would government fold its arm and watch while few politicians hired professional election riggers to carry out their criminal activities against the wishes and aspiration of a majority of the people, stressing that the earlier such election riggers sought careers in other specialties the better.

Jonathan said the quest by Nigerians for good leadership would remain elusive except the country was able to conduct free and fair election, stressing “you cannot get credible leaders when you don’t have credible elections.”

He also assured members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organization, NIDO, of government’s commitment to ensure that their contributions to national development were well harnessed for maximum impact, saying that plans to set up the Nigerian Diaspora Commission would be concluded very shortly.

President Jonathan who left Nigeria, yesterday, has arrived Nice, the venue of the 25th France-African Summit which opens today at the Acropolis Congress Centre. He is being accompanied on the two-day visit by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, National Planning, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman, Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Deziani Alison-Madueke, and the governors of Benue and Enugu states, Mr. Gabriel Suswan and Sullivan Chime, respectively.


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