By Kola Animashaun
Professor Attahiru Jega, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, made some boasts: that he would release full results of the elections within 48 hours; that he has the capacity to resist anyform of presure; that he would hold INEC officials responsible for court indictment.
Besides, Jega said he was not afraid for his life. All of these boasts he could not actualise 48 hours before the first election flopped.
Before then, we all believed him and we never believed anything to the contrary. Even when the elections would not happen. I have now been wiser. I even believed that those who would not make the elections possible would have been vanguished. But again, I was wrong and so was Jega himself.
Jega was badly let down and the entire Nigerians who believed in him. We have lost materials and money; and we lost face as well.
The saving grace is that the majority of Nigerians still believe in his integrity and could give him a new chance. No one doubts Jega’s integrity but those who need him need more than integrity. They may not say it openly, he will need grit of a distinct type which we do things for their benefit.
It may be for reason that the first election did not fly. The INEC needed all hands on its deck and no one can talk of not giving them a part to play. Jega must look out for saboteurs.
Of course, the President was right to feel angry. Billions of naira and valuable time had been invested and were now wasted.
I do not know who to trust among the government, INEC and the politicians. Let us hope that this time round the so-called security will do its duty for the sake of Nigerians and Nigeria.
*The other day the President repeated, for the upteemth time, that he did not need a do-or-die polls. I hope his handlers are listening.
*All pointed out that some spoil- sports will spoil the game except they allow it to go their way. Would it allow them?
My Golden Nights -7
By Prince Bola Ajibola
As soon as I got better and on my feet again, I reverted to my “golden nights” and became hyperactive once more. I was very much with the Bar Association activities and very much active in my national and international practices. I became a member of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris as well as a first class Arbitrator in Africa.
I kept flying over Africa and other parts of the world as a compromis judex; in places like Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, etc. When eventually I was elected the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, I kept on with my “golden nights” achieving successes in so many fields of human endeavour in the legal profession.
Suddenly, I was invited to serve as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice during the Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida administration. This was a very heavy assignment for me that I had to intensify my day-to-day indulgence in “golden nights” for six years.
I was not in a position to sleep on my bed anymore, instead of that I was always on my couch reading and reading throughout the nights. But despite all that, I served in those six years without taking any remuneration whatsover. I was working so hard to the extent that I carried my “golden nights” to the Ministry of Justice. People like Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Dr. J. B. Ajala, Mr. Awa Kalu, Mrs. Sade Adetiba, Moshood Adio, Bola Latinwo, Hon. Justice Deinde Sanyaolu, Honourable Justice (Dr.) Aina and so many others are still in the position to bear me witness.
Suddenly, it dawned on me that I was being tipped as a candidate to serve at the International Court of Justice as one of the Judges after the great sage and icon, H. E. Judge Taslim Olawale Elias passed on. Before then, I never dreamt of the idea of serving as a Judge in the World Court.
While I was still serving as the Attorney- General and Minister of Justice, the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mohammed Bello, as well as the then President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mamman Nasir, had already reserved a seat for me at the Supreme Court while I was being urged to come in. In fact, when I was first offered this position, I went straight to Justice Bello urging him to get ready in order to fill in that position in the International Court. It was he who bluntly told me that I would serve that position better and he was already proposing me having regard to my link and services on many adjudicatory matters particularly international arbitration. I was reluctant to take that office then because I was still very busy with my plan to achieve further success in the Ministry of Justice. When my nomination was getting late, it was Chief Adeniji, our then Minister of Foreign Affairs who urged me to come forward. I was vilified by some of our colleagues at that time that I was not the suitable person for that office for some of the unwarrantable and unreasonable reasons given. In fact, a book was written on this issue by a great journalist and lawyer, Chief Layi Joseph, about me and the World Court and the justification of my serving there.
To end this piece on my “golden nights,” let me first give the antecedents of my experience and my link with the late H. E. Judge Taslim Olawale Elias. He first noticed my intellectual acumen regarding litigation in 1997 when some of us appeared before the Judges of the International Court of Justice; himself inclusive, at Manila in the Philippines on an inportant mock trial based on UNCLOS 3 of the Law of the Sea, which was eventually signed and ratified as a Convention in the year 1982.
I with Mr. Spann (Junior) won the day before them and I received glowing applause before the Mock Trial Court in Manila. Since then, he became interested in me and invited me to several conferences. Indeed, I was with him at the World Jurist Association Conference in Cairo and we became close thereafter.