Friday, 2 July 2010

Jonathan picks Jega for Inec

President Goodluck Jonathan has finally chosen a new chair for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Attahiru Jega, the vice-chancellor of the Bayero University of Kano (BUK), was named INEC chair on 8 June 2010.

The Senate, which resumed plenary on 22 June after a two-week recess, screened Jega in a gruelling four-hour session and ratified the president's selection.

Jega is described as a radical activist, owing to his six-year stint as president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). Jega made ASUU the vibrant union that it is now, well known for its uncompromising stance when negotiating with the government, which has resulted in countless face-offs and strikes that have crippled the tertiary education system.

Jega served as ASUU president from 1988 to 1994 and is said to have fought several valiant battles against the administration of then military president General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida for increased salaries for lecturers and improved funding for universities. He had a two-week stint in jail as a result of his unionism and activism.

Associates of Jega have described him as the best person for the job of INEC chair because he is principled, fair, and firm and will not tolerate corruption or other underhand practices in the conduct of elections. Jega was a member of the Justice Mohammed Lawal Uwais Electoral Reform Committee and is expected to bring the experience garnered in that committee to bear in the execution of his new duties.

The consensus is that the task before Jega is almost Herculean. A lot is expected of him, especially with all the cries for electoral reform and free and fair elections. The Goodluck Jonathan-led administration has promised that it will do all within its power to ensure that the 2011 elections (at least) are free and fair.

For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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