Opinion

Ben Nanaghan: Jega’s Ethnic Agenda

Before now, I would have staked my soul to vouch for Prof Attahiru Jega’s professional impeccability when President Goodluck Jonathan appointed him the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission in 2010. I wondered if the President was not committing political hara-kiri. I therefore decided to “siddon look”.

And it was not too long before the professor swallowed the bait, hook, line and sinker. I know how enormously difficult it is to resist the weight of northern pressure groups on Jega to thwart the presidential ambition of any southern candidate with extra 6,000,000 votes through the creation of 12,000 extra polling units in 11 northern states plus Abuja.

The new stormy petrel of northern politics, Mr. Nasir el Rufai, and a former CBN governor have teamed up to wreck whatever Jonathan stands for. It is therefore not a miracle to witness the exit of Jega’s saintly scaffold which is a twin engine device of northern Nigeria to perpetually hold Nigeria’s presidency hostage to justify the northern slogan of “born to rule”.

The INEC brouhaha is a well contrived, well planned and well executed northern agenda to make assurance doubly sure the governance of Nigeria becomes the birthright of northern citizens. The INEC agenda is the concretisation of already existing age-long census anomaly which has made it possible for the North to rule Nigeria for 40 years since 1957 when Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa became Nigeria’s Prime Minister.

If not, how can the learned professor of political science convince even illiterate Nigerians that a war ravaged state like Borno deserves an extra 1,336 polling units. Mere rational reasoning stipulates that war-torn regions can never have a sudden surge of population but rather population depletion. This implies that most southerners in Borno State will relocate to their home states. The Federal Capital Territory, FCT, will also be an attractive alternative to our fleeing northerners from Borno State. It should have even made more sense to reduce Borno’s existing 3,933 PUs and increase all southern states and the FCT.

There never will be a greater injustice than Jega’s mischievous and inflated manipulation in many years to come.
For instance, Ondo State was awarded 221 new polling units to complement its existing 3,009 PUs. In the state, PUs in the riparian communities are either grossly insufficient or just non-existent. A good example is in Ebijaw ward of Odigbo LGA where there are only 13 PUs serving the entire ward.

The case of Gbenewei community is quite pathetic. The people have to trek through muddy and winding bush paths of about 10 kilometeres to get to the nearest polling unit. During rainy season, this road is impassable. Gbenewei and its surroundings have about 1,000 eligible voters. The community has delivered their application for a polling booth which was date-stamped by INEC on June 5, 2014 but hope of approval has dwindled by the day. Hundreds of thousands are thus disenfranchised in the South especially in the coastal communities while PUs sell two-for-one-kobo in the northern states.

It will be grossly unfair to end this piece without pouring encomium on the journalist and his team that uncovered this ignoble plot. Mr. Jide Ajani, Sunday Vanguard Editor, has done for Nigeria what our pioneer journalists could not do to stop northern political dominance because of our fake census figures which have ab-initio given the North an unfair numerical advantage. Ajani, in my opinion, should be given national honours for this investigative expose. This will be a pep to challenge him and other journalists to unravel and demystify the mystique surrounding our national census.
Kudos also to Vanguard which provided the environment for Ajani to excel.

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Ben Nanaghan lives in Lagos.

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