The Legislature on Tuesday described as “Uncalled for and frivolous” the utterance by the Independent National Electoral Commission that the delay in amending the 2011 Electoral Act constitutes a fresh hindrance to the conduct of the 2011 general elections. The National Assembly had reacted to the comments made by the Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, while receiving a delegation from the European Union Mission to Nigeria in Abuja on Monday that “We are getting conflicting signals and if there are any delays in the National Assembly, it will affect us. He continued “The faster they are able to complete the amendment process, the better for us. If we have to get an extension around November or December, then we will be back to square one. We do not want any extension that would affect the May 29 handover date.”
On hearing this, the National Assembly freed itself of any fault in the challenges facing the INEC, and was very quick to remind Jega of the Direct Data Capturing Machines needed for the voter’s registration – that is not yet available – more than a month after the budget for the poll was approved. All these are blame passing from either side; at the moment INEC should own up to her responsibility of delivering a credible election come next year, though we all know that it is a tough challenge and Jega himself also knew that before accepting the job, but from then till now, much has not been done by INEC, as the voters registration which is a valid argument from the National Assembly is still not sorted out. We expect both the INEC and the National Assembly to live up to their responsibilities as it concerns the coming general elections next year; so as to avoid any slip in meeting up with the swearing in dead line.
The last ten days had been used to castigate, pass blame, deny and redirect comments. Jega had decided to join the National Assembly in their game, and the National Assembly did not waste time in lashing back at him on his comment which came from the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ayogu Eze, and his counterpart from the House of Representatives, Mr. Eseme Eyiboh who spoke for the National Assembly. Eze, asked for an investigation into the comment by Jega and said the upper chamber of the National Assembly had to call off it recess to pass the commission’s budget “to give it a chance to do a nice job”. That to me is ball passing. If the National Assembly does not want to be held responsible for any eventual failure, then they should be nice enough to complete the amendment process fast and allow INEC do their job in ensuring success in the coming general elections.
Prof Jega in his own denial move had to state that he was quoted out of context. One begins to wonder when had the nation begun to be govern by comments, instead of positive actions directed to change our state for good. A lot is expected from the Jega lead INEC as we have not even gotten to the true test of the resolution of his administration. Knowing that politicians will always be politicians, and delivering a free and fair election is all we demand from him. INEC needs to put her act together and think of what she can do with the short time available to ensuring success in the coming elections.
With just over seven month to the handover date. The Independent National Electoral Commission has an uphill task ahead of her to surmount, so every form of energy should be geared towards that direction while all distractions from every other source should be avoided. INEC alone will be held responsibility for a failed election. Neither the National Assembly nor any other stake holder would. Nigerians awaits INEC to deliver as the world watches us. The word on many Nigerians’ lips is can the deadline be meant, Will we make it this time around with this infighting among stakeholders? Only time will tell…