By EMMANUEL AZIKEN & OKEY NDIRIBE
LAGOS-INFIGHTING among senior officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, may have been directly responsible for the shocking postponement of the National Assembly elections, Vanguard has learnt.
Commission officials speaking against the background of the admission by INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega that the late delivery of result sheets from Japan caused the postponement, blamed bickering among senior INEC officials as the underlining reasons for what was generally condemned as a national embarrassment.
Vanguard, however, learnt that the rift between Prof. Jega and some senior INEC officials including some Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, may have prepared the grounds for the colossal failure of the much heralded polls.
The face-off between Jega and senior INEC officials, Vanguard learnt, followed feelings of marginalization since the inauguration of the new commission under Jega. The senior officials of the commission were said to have felt marginalized in the way and manner Jega carried out the administration of the commission.
The senior officials and commissioners who Jega inherited were said to have been angry that they were not consulted before some major decisions were taken by Jega including the contracting process.
One source told Vanguard: “He was doing things on his own as if he was the only one there, only him and his favoured aides,” explaining that the INEC chairman was thus left on his own and as such did not have the benefit of the experience and advice that some INEC officials would otherwise have given him on matters such as logistics handling.
Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, however, dismissed the claims saying it was rubbish. He said: “I think it is arrant rubbish.”
Besides, Jega’s decision to sideline INEC officials in the conduct of the elections did not come as a welcome development.
Vanguard learnt that many officials both high and low who had expected to benefit financially from the process of organizing the election were equally aghast at the decision to wholly involve youth corps members for the conduct of the elections.
Reservations from INEC officials
The RECs who were appointed by the President at the same time with Jega were said to have been miffed over the manner Jega and his aides had scorned them.
The RECs who are INEC’s senior officials in the States were said to have expressed reservations over the plan by Jega to appoint what he once described as “eminent Nigerians” to take over the duty of announcing the results of state gubernatorial elections instead of the RECs who are the returning officers.
Jega, it was learnt, had taken opportunity of a loophole in Section 27 of the Electoral Act (2010) as amended which did not confer the specific role of returning officers to the RECs during a recent meeting with the commissioners to inform them that eminent Nigerians would be appointed to announce gubernatorial election results.
Mr. Idowu also dismissed the insinuations of murmuring especially coming from RECs on the matter of the appointment of eminent Nigerians as reporting officers for the gubernatorial elections.
“That is not the issue at this time as we are all now preoccupied with the National Assembly polls,” Idowu said in a telephone interview.