It is becoming increasingly obvious that chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Attahiru Jega is likely to be replaced before the commencement of the rescheduled elections, as associates close to President Goodluck Jonathan seem to be pursuing a script that would culminate in the sack, or resignation of the electoral boss.
The removal of Jega from INEC is just one part of a two episode drama to ensure that President Jonathan wins the presidential election to retain his seat in Aso Rock. The other strategy is to stop Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate from contesting the election.
Competent sources told our correspondent that the plot to remove Jega and the legal fireworks against Buhari, were to be taken up simultaneously given the timeframe made possible by the shift.
The need to replace Jega became pertinent, because he had become a torn in the flesh of hawks around the president who described him as being too independent-minded and ‘uncooperative’ despite being given the job on a platter of gold by the president’s men.
It was gathered, that the plan is to replace him with a less independent-minded person, and that it seems Jega might have unwittingly played into the hands of the forces arrayed against him by agreeing to shift the elections.
Although Jega reluctantly succumbed to pressure from the presidency and its security chiefs to shift the polls, he might still not be allowed by the forces to conduct the rescheduled elections now slated for March 28 and April 11. Competent sources revealed that the presidency was no longer comfortable with Jega and was, therefore, working tirelessly to get him out of the commission to pave way for a more ‘trusted hand’ to conduct the rescheduled elections.
It was learnt that the forces arrayed against the INEC boss had convinced the president not to renew Jega’s tenure, which is expected to lapse on June 13 this year. The forces, it was learnt, felt that Jega was rather too ‘difficult’ to deal with, having not allowed himself to be dictated to by anyone since assuming office like other appointees of the government.
It was learnt also gathered that in a bid to oust Jega without raising any dust, he would be asked to comply with the civil service procedure by proceeding on a three months terminal leave with effect from March 1, this year since he is expected to retire on June 13.
S-West gov’s brother may replace Jega
There are strong indications that the presidency was considering bringing in another academic from the South-West, who is currently heading a tertiary institution in the country, to replace Jega.
The professor of Political Science and International Relations is said to be a sibling of a serving governor in the South-West, who is a close ally of President Jonathan and his party.
Competent sources also told our correspondent that although the name of the academic had been made known in security circles, it was not clear whether the man had been cleared by the forces with a view to sending his name to the National Assembly for possible confirmation, as required by law.
Working against Jonathan’s interest
As a prelude to removing Jega from office, some close allies of the president had started accusing him of taking side with the opposition to undermine the success of Jonathan and his party in the next election.
It would be recalled, that recently, Jonathan’s political godfather, Chief Edwin Clark and some other prominent politicians from the Southern part of the country had accused Jega of working against the interest of the president and the PDP and asked him to resign from the commission. They also called for the arrest of Jega.
Similarly, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, on Saturday, said Jega had lied about the state of the commission’s preparedness for the conduct of the election.
In the same vein, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Olisa Metuh, accused INEC of working with the opposition to deny its members of permanent voter cards in some states. He called on the security agents to probe the commission over the development.
However, Prof Jega has stated that he would not be forced out of his job, neither would he cut short his tenure which expires on June 30.
Jega at a recent media briefing said, “If there are grounds for me to resign, I will gladly resign. If there are no grounds, I will not”.
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