National chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, at the weekend, ruled out the possibility of conducting the forthcoming general elections in the country if the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, is removed from office as being speculated.
The APC chairman spoke on the heels of rumours making the rounds that Jega might be sacked ahead of the polls, which have been slated for March 28 and April 11.
Although he expressed pessimism about the possibility of Jega’s removal given President Goodluck Jonathan’s continued assurance that the INEC chairman would oversee the conduct of the elections, Mr. Odigie-Oyegun stated that doing contrary, would mean the elections won’t hold.
“I don’t think they can remove him. We have only three weeks, although President Goodluck Jonathan, keeps saying he has no plan to sack him; that is different from removing him. But we have only three weeks unless they don’t want an election”, he said.
The former Edo State governor, who spoke with Leadership in Abuja, also denied that his party’s insistence on Jega conducting the polls had a sinister motive, saying APC was in the forefront of the INEC chairman’s stay in office in the interest of the nation.
His words: “It’s simple! We had one postponement; we don’t want a second one. In the middle, in fact, almost at the terminal end of a journey, you don’t change the captain. You don’t know who the new captain would be, you don’t know how conversant that new captain would be, and he may as well just request for another three months to familiarize himself with his job and the rest of it; that is unacceptable.
“Two, though that point hasn’t been flogged well enough, is that Jega was not appointed alone. So, if Jega has to proceed on terminal leave, why are the others not proceeding on terminal leave? In which case, we will have no INEC to conduct the elections. So, unless Jega’s terminal leave is punitive, in which case you have to tell the nation, but he has done no wrong. He is not a civil servant and he has a fixed constitutional term, full stop.
“Even if Jega himself was willing and applied to go on leave, the whole nation should beg him not to go until such a delicate assignment on which he is engaged is complete”.
Odigie-Oyegun, who decried the postponement of the general elections, stated that the polls would be in favour of the APC at the end of the day.
“I am not going to speculate, but we are going to win the election with a landslide because I am yet to walk the streets and see somebody who doesn’t want change, quite frankly. The entire population has taken ownership of that word and the process, and they are the ones now driving it”, he stressed.