The Minister of Culture and Tourism and the Supervising Minister of Information, Chief Edem Duke, has debunked the rumour making rounds that President Goodluck Jonathan plans to sack the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Attahiru Jega.
Edem said this during his maiden meeting with information correspondents at Radio House, Abuja. However, he added that “this is not to say that, if it is time for INEC chairman to naturally exit his office, then the natural course of public service rule will not take place when he has reached age of retirement or exhausted his tenure.”
“I align myself with Mr. President that he has no plan to sack the INEC chairman. President Jonathan reaffirmed the confidence reposed on the INEC chairman and reiterated that the administration has no plan whatsoever to send the electoral umpire illegally packing. But nothing would debar the INEC boss from proceeding on retirement when the need arises, in line with the civil service rule and as enshrined in the constitution.”
Although the Minister did not explain further, it was gathered that the administration of President Jonathan was angry with Jega for introducing the Card Reader as a means of accreditation for the general elections without briefing the Federal Government over the issue.
“Jega wants to try a new system of accreditation without briefing the Presidency over the issue. No freedom is absolute. Section 125 of the constitution forbids electronic voting. Although the card reader can not be used for voting, it is for checking voters.
“Secondly, the point Jega also missed is that Nigeria is not a place you can introduce that type of system without trial or experimentation. You try some of these things using local government elections .You can start with council election, beginning with councilors, local government chairmen in that other before you proceed to governorship and presidential elections.
“But Jega is starting his experiment with the presidential election, It is wrong even though people are playing politics with the matter,” Saturday Vanguard quoted a source as saying.
Speaking further at the meeting, the minister urged media practitioners to beware of rumour mongers and ensure that that they separate truth from propaganda that was now the order of the day in the country due to the ongoing electioneering campaigns.
“With the elections around the corner, it is important for every one of us to apply some sense of decorum, sense of patriotism and sense of judgmental guide in a manner that whatever we do, especially at this critical time of our nation’s development, we must be guided strictly by spirit of professionalism and love of our country.
“Those who are competing for offices in the course of these elections are the ones feeding social media with propaganda because they have no records to back their aspiration; they had spent a lot of resources, time and ingenuity building social media propaganda so that by the time campaign commenced, they were ready with propaganda against government in power.
“They embark on massive publicity campaign, recruit electoral PR companies to sell products that do not exist and these are thrown to the public during election. But we must realise that truth struck a thousand times will always rise again because the eternal age of time belongs to truth,” he said.