Attahiru Jega
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22 years of Nigeria’s democracy: Ex-INEC boss, Jega, says APC, PDP are unmitigated failures, and they have fumbled it

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“The big two major political parties are a Siamese twin, and it was high time Nigerians shopped for a credible alternative. Nigerians should dump the two parties because of their bad antecedents over the last 20 years. Looking at their inability to change the economic fortunes of Nigeria for 20 years now, it is now apparently clear that they would not do anything even if Nigerians vote for any of the two parties again’’

“The bad things these parties committed in those past years, Nigerians should never give their trust to the parties again. It is now very clear that these parties would never change, even if they are given another chance. The APC and PDP have formed governments, we were all witnesses. They did not come with a good intention to make amends. If you look at the fight against corruption, all these corrupt people that were supposed to be prosecuted sneaked into the APC’’

After 22 years of lugging and tottering, a damning verdict has been handed down by a one of the political midwives and umpires of Nigeria’s democratic process, calling out Nigerians ahead of the 2023 polls to reject the two dominant parties in the country – the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

A professor of Political Science and former Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission of Nigeria (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Muhammad Jega, who presided over the 2015 presidential election which gave victory to President Muhammadu Buhari against the incumbent, the first in the annals of national elections in the country, said the parties had failed abysmally to bring the desired growth and development in the past 20 years.

Specifically, the Kebbi-born academic and erstwhile Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, has issued political advisory and carte blanche to Nigerians: Do not to vote for the APC and the PDP henceforth.

Describing the big two major political parties as Siamese twins, Jega said it was high time Nigerians shopped for a credible alternative.

“Nigerians should dump the two parties because of their bad antecedents over the last 20 years. Looking at their inability to change the economic fortunes of Nigeria for 20 years now, it is now apparently clear that they would not do anything even if Nigerians vote for any of the two parties again,” he said.

President Buhari had on July 8, 2021 appointed Jega as the Chairman, Governing Council of the University of Jos.

Jega, who bared his mind in BBC Hausa interview, also said:“The bad things these parties committed in those past years, Nigerians should never give their trust to the parties again. It is now very clear that these parties would never change, even if they are given another chance.

“The APC and PDP have formed governments, we were all witnesses. They did not come with a good intention to make amends. If you look at the fight against corruption, all these corrupt people that were supposed to be prosecuted sneaked into the APC.

“We are hearing nothing. That is why I have since registered with the Peoples Redemption Party( PRP). I am now a PRP member looking for ways to help Nigeria.

“That is why we believe now is the time to establish a platform where every good Nigerian should join and contribute towards building the nation on the right path.’’

Ruling out any possible paradigm shift or change in the parties, Jega accused those in the major political parties of destroying “everything and had made the parties so stigmatized that whichever good person joins them would be considered like them’’ and suffer the same fate.

Just as some parties fused to ahead of the 2015 polls to form mega APC, the academic said the only hope of salvation for Nigerians to form a new political platform.

“This is why it has now become imperative to have a new platform where good Nigerians will constitute the membership.”

On increased self-determination agitations across the country particularly in the Southwest and Southeast, Jega blamed what he called lack of good leadership in Nigeria on the calls for the balkanization of the nation which has reached a fever pitch under the current administration.

“Since 1979 I have been teaching in the university for 40 years now. So, from what I read and observed, when I was Chairman of INEC, honestly the way I see our politicians conducting elections and from the manner they represent their people when elected, it is something to be afraid of,” the don said.

Born on January 11, 1957, Jega shot into prominence in 2015 when he announced the results of the elections gave Buhari overhemning victory to unseat the incumbent, Gr Goodluck Jonathan. On 8 June 2010, he was nominated by Jonathan as the new Chairman of INEC), subject to Senate confirmation as a replacement to Prof. Maurice Iwu, who vacated the post on 28 April 2010..

Jega is the only INEC chairman to oversee two Nigerian General Elections (2011 and 2015). Jega retired on 30 June 2015, handing over his position to Amina Zakari according to a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Persecondnews also recalls that Jega had in July 2021 advised Buhari to withdraw the appointment of his social media aide, Ms.Lauretta Onochie as a National Commissioner of INEC, a nomination which drew flak from acorss the country on the grounds that Onochie as an APC member.

Before heading INEC, he was vice-chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, a federal university (2005-2010); deputy vice-chancellor of Bayero University (1995-1996); director of the Center for Democratic Research and Training (2000-2004); president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU (1988-1994); and vice president of the ASUU (1986-1988).

Jega obtained his bachelor’s degree (Hon.) in political science from Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria, and a master’s degree and PhD from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, USA. He has published extensively on Nigerian politics, elections, democratization and transition to democracy, military and politics, and identity politics, among other topics. He is the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Nigerian National Honors Award of Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) in 2005, IFES’ Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award in 2015, and ICPS’ Election Commissioner of the Year awards in 2013 and 2015. He is also the recipient of three honorary doctorate degrees.

Jega has been a visiting senior research fellow at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (N.I.I.A.); a Swedish Institute Fellow in the Department of Political Science, University of Stockholm; a visiting fellow at St. Peters College, University of Oxford; and a visiting scholar at George Mason University, United States. He was also a visiting fellow in practice at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford.

Between 2015 and 2019, Professor Jega was pro-chancellor and ghairman of the Governing Council, Plateau State University, Bokkos. He also served on the International Advisory Council of S.G.O. Smartmatics, a global elections technology company, between 2015 and 2019.

Currently, Jega is a professor in the Department of Political Science at Bayero University and serves as a member of Ghana’s former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan Foundation’s Electoral Integrity Initiative, the Nigerian Tertiary Education Fund’s (TETFUND) Research and Development Standing Committee, and the board of the International Federation of Electoral Systems (IFES).

 

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