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Jega and the Moral Burden of Erosion of Confidence

Jega and the Moral Burden of Erosion of Confidence

Whoever knows Professor Attahiru Muhammadu Jega, the  academic and former Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University Kano, would attest to the fact that he has two or three outstanding qualities. The first is his Godliness. He is very religious.

The second is his gentlemanliness. He is generally gentlemanly in manners. And the third is his adherence to conventionally accepted standards of conduct. He is morally right and justifiably so, having come from a very disciplined family.

In the heat of the ongoing debate about the appropriateness or otherwise, of President Muhammadu Buhari nominating his aide, in the person of Lauretta Onochie, as a National Commissioner of the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof Jega, who was once the INEC chairman, is advising the President to withdraw the nomination, because according to him, “it would prevent erosion of confidence from the electoral body and process”.

Jega, in an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today, while reacting to the appointment of the presidential aide, Lauretta Onochie, as INEC National Commissioner, said the controversy trailing her nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari should have been avoided.

If Jega’s major reason of discomfort with Lauretta’s nomination is due to the fear of the erosion of confidence on the electoral body, which is premised on her perceived partisanship, I hasten to disagree with the position of the learned political science professor.

The political science academics, including his humble self, have told us that partisanship is the commitment of a person to the policies or principles of a particular political party. And the dictionary says, in multi-party systems, the term is used for persons who strongly support their party’s policies and are reluctant to compromise with political opponents.

It may be recalled that on the 8th of June 2010, Professor Jega was nominated by then President Goodluck Jonathan as the new Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), subject to Senate confirmation, as a replacement for Professor Maurice Iwu, who vacated the post on 28 April 2010. The Senate confirmed his nomination and he took the oath of office after the appropriate approval.

A year later, a PDP member, Lawrence Nwuruku, who ran for Ebonyi state governorship in 2007, and was  tipped to be PDP national chairman, was nominated by the same President Jonathan, as INEC‘s Federal Commissioner, and got confirmed by a PDP-led Senate. He assumed office after appropriate approval.

Alalibo Johnson, a one-time PDP member of Bayelsa House of Assembly, who ran for governor and later made S.A. to Gov Dickson, was also made INEC‘s state Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC.

If partisanship is the taboo that is used to advance the prohibition or restriction of the suitability of Lauretta Onochie, that taboo ought to have been placed in practice, in order to forbid the aforementioned from association with INEC.

While appearing before the Senator Kabiru Gaya, APC, Kano South-led Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for screening as a National Commissioner, Lauretta Onochie told the lawmakers that she stopped being a card-carrying member of the APC in 2019, two years ago, and almost soon as President Buhari was re-elected for the second term.

I don’t understand why someone’s past would be used to judge him on a new assignment that would come with an oath of allegiance. And the annoying part of the argument is the reliance by some people on her post on twitter, a medium that is now rated at par with sacrilege.

Any rule or principle which is unfairly applied in different ways to different people amounts to double standard, and Lauretta Onochie is unfairly falling victim of such principle.

If Jega, whose tenure as INEC Chairman is adjudged as one of the best, if not the best, in terms of credibility, uprightness, fairness and incorruptibility, could work with Lawrence Nwuruku without anyone advancing the fear of the erosion of confidence on the electoral body, I see no reason why Lauretta’s case would be treated differently.

Lawrence Nwuruku is a male, the equivalent of the proverbial gander. Lauretta is a female, the equivalent of the proverbial goose. And the saying is: What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Or, one person or situation should be treated the same way that another person or situation is treated

Anything to the contrary, is what would create a moral burden of the erosion of confidence on the system.

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