2015: Jega’s reforms stir INEC

By Levinus Nwabughiogu

Should it fail to give Nigerians free, fair and credible elections in 2015, it would mean that Professor Attahiru Jega led Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has fallen short of all promises of reforms it had made to the people since its inception in 2010.

And so, to get it right and avoid mistakes of the past, the regime has seemingly started off programmes and activities envisaged to produce the needed results in 2015 elections.

But there are aggressions against some of the moves already made largely occasioned by feelings that the reforms were sentimentally conceived to “deal” with perceived enemies of Jega.

But on the other hand, some other moves which however included a three day retreat of the Commission held in Sokoto State last week appeared to have elicited applauses due to the progress it recorded.

For one, INEC, penultimate week launched into what authorities called “routine exercise”. But in critics’ quarters, it was seen as “dart-shootings” at perceived enemies. Whatever the arguments, the idea behind the move, many believe, was to ultimately rid the Commission of bag eggs and get it ready ahead of 2015 elections. Remarkably, the exercise affected 26 directorates in the commission which were pruned down to nine. Also, some departments were collapsed into others. Jega-cartoon-2015

The consequence of this however was a palpable fear that many a director, especially those who have less than two years to their retirement would lose their jobs due that an ensued caveat to either adhere to the option of voluntary retirement or get transferred. To this end, about 67 Directors faced the challenges at the insipient stage of the changes.

Furore over restructuring
The development was later to generate unusual tirade of controversies in the Commission as most people kicked. But in quick succession, the Chairman of the Commission moved to pacify the frayed nerves.

This was evident in a marathon meeting, Jega had with the 36 Resident Electoral Commissioners, REC, on Monday April 15, 2013. The meeting later dissolved into secret session where many contentious issues arising from the restructuring were laid to rest.

“It is all about the review of contentious decisions on restructuring, posting of Administrative secretaries to the 36 states,” a source at the secret meeting said noting the urgency of correcting situations where RECs and Administrative Secretaries were persons from the same state.

The new directors and heads of departments who have now assumed office are F. Tobi ( Audit Directorate); Irene Oguhuma (Alternative Dispute Resolution Directorates); Shettima Ngaladi (Security Directorates); Okechukwu Ndeche (Planning and Monitoring Directorate); Kaura Ismaila (Stores Directorate); Gali Isiaku (Commissions Secretariat); Wase Lawal (Procurement Directorate); Usman Usman (Adminitration Directorate); Uzzi Osaze (International cooperation and Protocol Directorate); Gammy Ajaoku (Health services Directorate).

Other new heads of departments appointed are Arabambi A. D. (Publicity, Gender and CSO Liaison Dept); Musa Adamu (Human Resources); Salamatu Ibrahim (Finance and Accounts Department); Akem Emmanuel (Voter Registry Department); Chidi Nwafor (ICT); Oladimeji Kayode (Electoral Operations); Bala Shittu (Elections and Party Monitoring Department); Ogakwu Augusta (Legal Services Dept); Engr. Moses Udoh (Estate, Works and Transport Department).

Jega’s Appeal for understanding: In the meeting with the RECs, the Chairman reportedly acknowledged the controversy that greeted the recent changes in the Commission and pledged to make things right.

Sources said the meeting succeeded in stopping the widely speculated showdown that was in the offing in the Commission after the changes were announced.

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