By Okey Ndiribe, Asst. Political Editor
There were speculations yesterday, that Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Attahiru Jega may have resigned from office.
The speculations became rife after the INEC boss held a marathon meeting with the 37 Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) across the country. The meeting lasted for over seven hours.
At the end of the meeting, both local and foreign journalists who had been waiting for the usual briefing from Jega , were told that he would not address the media on the outcome of the meeting until tomorrow(today)
It was the INEC Director of Public Affairs (DPA) Mr Emmanuel Umenger and the Chief Press Secretary to the Commission’s boss Mr Kayode Idowu who informed journalists at the crowded INEC Media Centre about the directive that they should return tomorrow(today) for a briefing on the outcome of the meeting.
Umenger spoke first and later handed over the microphone to Mr. Idowu for further explanation on the directive that had been given to the waiting journalists. Several journalists then seized the opportunity to ask Mr Idowu to comment on rumours that had been circulating that Jega had resigned, but he refused to do so. The question was asked repeatedly but Idowu avoided it and instead addressed other issues.
In response to another question he was asked Idowu had replied: “ What the understanding was at the meeting was that there were logistical problems that would be addressed. And if for any reason there is a decision to be taken concerning constituencies then the Chairman would let you know”.
Then almost in a chorus several journalists asked: “ Is it true that the INEC Chairman has resigned? This is the rumour making the rounds”
Then others asked: “ Why is he not here to address us?”
Idowu then replied: “ What happened was that the Commission has decided that the election of next Saturday must have credibility. For instance, the issue of transportation and supply of materials has been addressed. Now all those materials are available for deployment.”
When the question about rumours concerning Jega’s resignation was asked once again, Idowu responded by saying “we don’t work with rumours here. We don’t react to rumours”.
Meanwhile a prominent online publication ( not Vanguardngr.com ) published a story in its yesterday edition that powerful Nigerians close to President Jonathan are pushing for the removal of Jega.
According to the publication: “ They are using last Saturday’s botched parliamentary elections as a convenient peg, and are mobilizing members of the National Assembly to return to Abuja to carry out a speedy trial and removal of Jega from office.”
The publication further stated that The plot, which has identified several top Nigerians centres on the “disloyalty of Prof. Jega to President Jonathan.
The publication quoted reliable sources which revealed last Monday at a stormy meeting at the presidential villa in Abuja, which was presided over by Jonathan, the top officials of the Federal Government railed against Jega’s bungling of the Saturday election.
Jega’s “weakness,” according to several sources familiar with the discussions, is his alleged link with opposition candidates and civil society advocates.