Prof Attahiru Jega, has on, reiterated his preparedness to conduct the general elections as scheduled, but
maintained that only the military could guarantee the sanctity of the March 28 and April 11 dates.
Attahiru-Jega, who appeared before the Senate to explain the level of the electoral body’s (INEC) preparedness for the elections, however, stunned many of the lawmakers when he revealed that
one million Permanent Voter Cards had yet to be received by the commission from the manufacturers.
The Senators had thoroughly grilled him after he made about three-hour presentation and demonstrated how the card readers work. Responding to a question by the Minority Leader,
Senator George Akume, to give a clear assurance on the dates,Attahiru Jega replied,
“I think it is a very
difficult question to answer.
“I have said consistently that there are things under the control of electoral commission and there are things that are not under the control of electoral commission. For things that are under our control, I can give definite and categorical assurances.
“On what is not under our control, it is futile, it is fruitless and useless to give a definite guarantee on them. I think that question should be directed appropriately. The questions of security, I will leave it, I don’t think I am competent to answer it sufficiently.”
Attahiru-Jega was asked how he would respond if the security agencies requested a further delay, Jega said doing so would be illegal.
Jega then made reference to a constitutional provision that requires elections to be concluded and the winner should be declared at least 30 days before May 29, when a new
government must be sworn in.
“Every Nigerian knows we want elections to hold… within a constitutional time frame. The
security agencies are (made up of) patriotic Nigerians. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt,”
Jega told the senators.
“We should be fair also to the military. Soldiers are also patriotic Nigerians. I don’t see how anybody will contemplate any extension beyond these six weeks.
“There is no constitutional grounds upon which you can do that. For us, we work by the constitution, by the law . That is what is guiding us and we should all put the interest of the
nation at heart.
“The human factor is always significant, it is always important but we believe that working
together with security and other stakeholders, we should be able to prevent negative human intervention that can create problems.
“I kept saying consistently that INEC is not a security organisation. We are an election management body; so we rely a lot on security to be able to ensure that things are done well and that there is no disruption of the electoral process.
“We have been working very closely with the inter agencies consultative committee on election security and that is why for us, if the service
chiefs say that we can’t guarantee security, give us more time, what is the alternative security arrangements ?
“If we consulted with the stakeholders and we cannot find an answer, what happens? We are
going to use close to 700, 000 ad hoc staff. We can’t send people to the field in that kind of a situation.
“Our prayer is that in the next six weeks, there will be significant improvement in the security
situation for us to hold the elections all over this country in a very secure environment.
“There are certain questions that we are not really competent to answer. Certain questions should be directed to the military; they can answer them better.”
Attahiru-Jega, The INEC boss expressed confidence in the
effectiveness of the card readers, stressing that their use for accreditation during the elections
would not contravene any provision either in the electoral act or in the constitution.
He also said that anyone who clones and tries to prevent the use of the card readers would be treated as a criminal.