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The Political House Of Cards That Jega Built, By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

Nigeria is in a bad shape, and there is the countrywide fear that anything can happen to upend the wobbly house. 

The much-ballyhooed 2023 presidential election has become an all-comers affair of highly moneyed pall-bearers intent on interring the country for good. 

The country has been so compromised over the years that going forward is a structural impossibility. 

What is not so funny is that some of the characters that helped to put Nigeria in the big mess are also complaining today. 

It is incumbent on me to make these characters not to forget their crooked roles in putting Nigeria adrift.

One major player that must be put to task is the former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Attahiru Jega.

Jega is now complaining bitterly all over the place after he had sucked up extravagant praises after arranging the 2015 elections via a pre-determined formula.

Many Nigerians have forgotten all too quickly that tampering with the country’s red-hot geopolitics was a ready pointer to disaster. 

In the run-up to the 2015 presidential election, Jega’s INEC proposed the introduction of additional 30,000 polling units in Nigeria that was brazenly lopsided as to beggar belief. 

The 30,000 polling units’ allocation gave the North a whopping 21,615 units against the South’s paltry 8,412 units.

The Northwest boasted of as many as 7,906 units. The North-central came a hefty second with an allocation of 6,318 units. The Northeast earned third place in the INEC allocation bazaar with 5,291 units. 

The leading allocation in the South happened to be the Southwest with 4,160 units. The South-South was allocated 3,087 units. 

The Federal Capital Territory of Abuja basked in the allocation of 1,200 units, a figure larger than the meagre allocation to the Southeast of only 1,167 units. 

This provocatively bizarre allocation formula by Jega’s INEC stood as though Nigeria was carrying into the elections what late Pa Abraham Adesanya condemned as “cattle and goats census” of land mass over population density. 

The INEC officers put out word that the body undertook the allocations based on the need to increase polling units in such a way that not more than about 500 people should be in each polling unit. 

I have had my time defending Professor Attahiru Jega as a man coming from the leftist constituency where I happen to belong.  

In hindsight it is fine to discover and stress that he only represented the left wing of the irredentist Northern Caliphate. 

Jega re-ignited all the primordial dangers that all but killed the country’s move toward democracy and modernity.  

The North-South divide has crudely been sundered, and the much-touted alliance of the North with the Southwest appears to have run into a cul-de-sac. 

Let’s remember that Chief Tom Ikimi, in his letter then announcing his withdrawal from the All Progressives Congress (APC), wrote inter alia as per “their calculation that the Presidency in the 2015 General elections will be won by the APC through votes from the North West and South West Nigeria became an obsession. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who passionately believed in this theory and who arrogantly claimed custody of all South West votes already picked an aspirant from North Western Nigeria who will run as Presidential candidate with him as Vice Presidential candidate. The National image of the party immediately plummeted.” 

The INEC’s inelegant allocations of hefty polling units to the Northwest and Southwest could be seen through in this wise. 

Former Governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, had equally alleged that there was a plot to rig the 2015 presidential election in favour of the North. 

Ezeife argued that the Southeast, which was Goodluck Jonathan’s strongest support base, was cheated with the least allocation of polling units.

Now that the 2023 presidential election is all the rage, all of Jega’s 2015 arrangements have come back to wound Nigeria badly. 

Northern politicians, armed with Jega’s mischievous political mathematics, now claim that they have the voting numbers to keep the presidency for keeps, and must not be intimidated by the South on account of rotation of power. 

The Southwest politicos who forged the 2015 alliance with the North are crying foul that their partners appear not intent on playing ball. 

The Southeast wannabes that are the other side of the civil war, and who have never ruled the country since the end of the war, are insisting that if there is any justice or fair-play left in the land the zone should get the chance to rule. 

But how far can the marginalised lot get with the paltry polling units and voters allocated to them by the math-magician Jega and his cohorts?      

Jega and his INEC have set hapless Nigeria on a very familiar disastrous road, and it is too late to cry.  

  • Uzor Maxim Uzoatu is a renowned poet, journalist and author
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