The Involvement Of Politicians In INEC; Professor Maurice Iwu’s Perspicacious View?
Professor Maurice Iwu may probably go down in the history of Senate screening as the only nominee that stood and received barrage of “bombing” – questions, from senators for probably more than one solid hour. It is also on record that the questions he contended with were mostly in a, b, c, and so on – in one. Equally, when these questions landed, the accuracy of delivery in terms of constitutional correctness could have left the most sophisticated of political scientist gasping for breath, but Iwu, a Professor of pharmacy, stood and soaked all the questions with equally precision in terms of constitutional correctness to the admiration of those present at the gallery on that fateful day.
Probably determined to ensuring intrigue free INEC, Iwu has strongly opposed the involvement of politicians in the commission. According to Punch Newspaper report on Saturday 23 July 2005, Iwu categorically stated that: “--such calls, if heeded, would only make the electoral body less effective in discharge of its duty as the politicians would bring political intrigues to bear on the commission--.” But, is his line of argument in tandem with that of political analysts? Two schools of thoughts appear to have emerged here. In the first instant, many experts are in general agreement with him on this score. These set of experts believe that the apparent poor run of INEC in 2003 general elections was as a result of the involvement of politicians especially political commissioners in the commission. They ar e quick to point to the Senatorial crisis in Anambra State as a fall out of political intrigue mostly from INEC headquarters. States like Lagos and Abia had their fare share of political maneuverings arising probably from vested interest and interest conflict in INEC.
Many had though that administratively/ constitutionally, only the INEC chairman has the final authority to announce the final outcome of elections, but what many saw was a situation where some commissioner[s] elected to arrogate the power[s] of INEC chairman to themselves. It may be recalled that when the vexed issue of who won the Abia South senatorial election cropped up, the chairman of the commission then, Dr. Abel Gobadia was expected to tell the whole Nigerians the position of INEC on the matter. Also, upon Justice Egbo-Egbo’s order that Senator Adolphus Wabara be given the certificate of return by INEC, two camps apparently emerged, with Alhaji Shahu Musa leading one divide, the other camp however, had Alhaji Akim Baba Ahmed. It is on record that Alhaji Shahu musa, a commissioner, insisted that Senator Wabara did not win the election in questio n. The authentic group in INEC, according to experts however, ordered Akim Baba Ahmed to issue Wabara with certificate of return, in deference to court order, which he did. Till date, the bad blood generated by that unfortunate controversy, which experts believed was politically motivated is yet to subside, and the image of the commission appeared to have been dented as a result. It is believed by many that these scenarios were probably what professor Iwu had in mind when he categorically opposed the involvement of political contractors in the commission.
Those in favour of politicians been part of INEC, hinged their argument on the fact that the party in power will always bring INEC to toe its position during election. They are quick to add that in the 2003 general election, INEC was goaded by the ruling party to rig the election; if however, according to them, representatives of all the political parties are in INEC, the issue of the commission been used to subvert the wishes of the people in the elections will be impossible. Opponent of this view are quick to ask; which geopolitical zones were elections rigged in 2003, considering the fact that, the main parties won elections according to their strengths in these zones, with the exception of South West, which position was understandable. Experts believed that Alliance For Democracy (AD) entered into what could be termed as an unworkable alliance wit h PDP and paid dearly for it. In-fact, it is believed that if AD – PDP understanding had worked in the southwest geopolitical zone, it would go down in the history of Nigeria as the most tribally motivated alliance and would not have been acceptable to Nigerians.
With respect to Anambra state, the same Shehu Musa in an interview he granted to Vanguard Newspaper in the middle of the year 2004 categorically insisted that the names of the trio of Ngochukwu Ubah, Emma Anosike and Ikechukwu Abana were not originally submitted to INEC by PDP. From his statement, analysts noted that it lent credence to political mauverings in INEC. In the first analysis, the most competent person to speak on the matter according to experts was Dr. Abel Gobadia, the chairman of INEC and exposed PDP under the leadership of Chief Audu Ogbeh, as disorganized and lacking in discipline. It also showed that there were political agents in INEC. One can only imagine what the fate of the commission will be, should the proposed involvement of politicians in INEC sails through.
Pronouncement: The only way in which INEC could be insulated from political blackmail and intrigues is for it to be managed by seasoned technocrats; the alternative may amount to courting disaster. I think Professor Maurice Iwu’s position is quite in order and perhaps perspicacious.
Emeka Oraetoka, is an Abuja based
Information Management Consultant.
Wrote in from Garki – FCT.