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Past Electoral Umpires and their pre-election disposition

1. Mr. E. E. Esua (Chairman) Federal Electoral Commission (FEC), 1964-1966, crisis was already brewing in the Western Region. Verdict: The environment was primed for chaos.

2. Chief Michael Ani, (Chairman), 1976-1979, first elections after the civil war.  He said he was ready and all seemed set. Post presidential election dispute was the major set-back but it was settled by the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

3. Justice Victor E. Ovie Whiskey (Chairman) FEDECO,1980-1983. He claimed to be prepared but it was obvious that the ruling National Party of Nigeria, NPN, primed FEDECO for failure with massive rigging leading to the creation of a new electoral vocabulary, ‘Landslide Victory’

Maurice Iwu, Jega's predecessor

4. Prof Eme O. Awa (Chairman) National Electoral Commission (NECO) 1987-1989.  He claimed to be very ready but failed woefully with the December 12, 1987, local council elections on no-party basis

5. Prof Humphrey Nwosu (Chairman), 1989-1993.  With assistance from Professor Omo Omoruyi’s Centre for Democratic Studies, CDS, Nwosu, though ruffled on the eve of the election by a midnight court judgment stopping the June 12 Presidential Elections was able to give Nigerians what remains the fairest and freest election yet

6. Amb. Okon Edet Uya (Chairman), 1993-1993.  He was hurriedly appointed by out-going military President Ibrahim Babangida and was equally hurriedly sacked by the new military head of state, General Sani Abacha – Uya served only about five months and he never conducted any election.

7. Chief S. Dagogo-Jack (Chairman) National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON)    1994-1998.  He presided over Abacha’s election to the Constitutional Conference of 1994 and also presided over the legislative elections for the five Abacha political parties.

8. Hon Justice Ephraim O. I. Akpata (Chairman) Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, 1998-2000.  Akpata was very ready as the military administration of Abdulsalami Abubakar wanted to just hand over power.  The elections were primed to service some interests in the country.  Alliance for Democracy, AD, a largely Yoruba party was accommodated on account of the perceived injustice of the June 12 presidential election annulment.

9. Sir Abel Obude Guobadia (Chairman, INEC), 2000-2005.  He said all was set for the election but massive rigging was the outcome because then President Olusegun Obasanjo had to return for a second term at all cost and he needed to also overrun the AD in the south west for his Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.  Obasanjo succeeded.

10. Prof Maurice M. Iwu (Chairman, INEC), 2005- June 2010. Perhaps the most vociferous, even members of the National Council of States believed that INEC had prepared very well for the 2007 general elections but with what Nigerians eventually got, in an electoral environment that had been sufficiently poisoned by the crisis which rocked Nigeria’s presidency, where a sitting President and his deputy were at war, the elections were generally perceived as a shambles.  But the Courts voided just less than 5% of all the elective offices in that election. The most important, the presidential election did not suffer any judicial mishap.

11. Prof. Attahiru Jega, (Chairman, INEC), June, 2010 – To Date

He has been complaining about time and to further muddy the waters, his Commission members do not know what constitute ‘Existing Laws’ some four months to an election.


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