By Henry Umoru

ABUJA – FORMER Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, said, Saturday, that the postponement of the National Assembly elections by the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega never came to him as a surprise due to the short time available to the commission in preparing for the elections.

According to Babangida, rather than crucify Jega for what happened, he should be hailed for his courage to accept that there were some discrepancies and inadequacies, just as he said that it was a good thing for the Chairman to postpone the elections, instead of conducting for Nigerians, an election that would be  subject of condemnation and rejection.

In a statement signed , Saturday by his Spokesperson, Prince Kassim Afegbua, the former Military ruler said, ‘’he deserves to be encouraged and motivated in the light of our present shortcomings, so that the electoral body would be able to conduct a better election rather than conduct one that would be subject of condemnation and rejection.

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The statement read in full, ‘’the postponement of the National Assembly elections till Monday, 4th April, 2011 did not come as a surprise because of the short time available to the electoral body in preparing for these elections. Even at that and despite the shortcomings experienced as a result of the unanticipated late arrival of result sheets, the INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega should be commended for his courage to own up to these discrepancies and inadequacies.

‘’He deserves to be encouraged and motivated in the light of our present shortcomings, so that the electoral body would be able to conduct a better election rather than conduct one that would be subject of condemnation and rejection. With the late arrival of election materials, it would have been impossible to conduct the elections as scheduled and whose results would be acceptable to the electorates.

‘’Professor Jega has introduced a new approach to the responsibility of the electoral body. By accepting the bare-faced fact that the elections should be postponed till Monday, 4th April, he has displayed a unique courage and accepted full responsibility for the shortcomings. That alone is the hallmark of leadership that is responsible, humble, calculated, bold, courageous and responsive to unanticipated challenges.

‘’Rather than condemn him in wholesale terms, we should empathize with him, we should motivate him to ensure credible outcome, we should commend him for having that unpeculiar courage to own up to the failings and frailties of INEC. By 4th April, Nigerians would be expecting a better conduct by which time, the electoral body would have put its house in order to ensure a hitch-free exercise. Democracy often comes with all manners of challenges and very peculiar hiccups.

‘’It is our ability to withstand the shocks that would continue to motivate us to move forward in our democratic journey. Let us not crucify Professor Jega without commending him for his courage. Let us believe that this is an opportunity for the electoral body to make amends and deliver credible elections to Nigerians without equivocation.

‘’It is our prayer that Nigeria would continue to grow from strength to strength irrespective of our temporary setbacks which are by their very nature surmountable. May Allah see us through this process.

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