By Nelson Ekujimi
November 18, 2014 – All it requires for the pyrrhic victory of lies over truth to be sustained, is for men of good conscience to keep quiet and do or say nothing, so goes a popular saying. It is with the hindsight of this, that one feels, it’s appropriate and an obligation to posterity to respond and put in proper perspective, Mr. Yinka Odumakin “Afenifere” sponsored orchestrated attack on Professor Attahiru Jega and INEC lately for what it is, which is other than altruistic and in national interest.
Ever since INEC came up with its well thought out but now suspended policy of the creation of additional 30,000 polling units ahead of the 2015 general elections of which she explained that the reason was due to the need to decongest the existing polling units of registered voters of 3000 per polling unit to a reasonable and international standard number of 500 and also in order to make the polling units accessible and less time consuming to the electorates so as to engender their active participation, Mr. Yinka Odumakin of a self proclaimed “Afenifere” group which only exist on the pages of newspaper to serve his personal interest and other “ethnic” sponsored groups claiming to be from the Southern part of Nigeria introduced ethnic sentiments to a nationalistic and democracy strengthening policy by engaging in a campaign of blackmail and calumny against the electoral body and most especially against the personality of Professor Attahiru Jega.
Mr. Odumakin’s “Afenifere” and its state sponsored cohorts rather than addressing the issues raised by INEC as necessitating the reason for its policy, embarked on a campaign of ethicizing the policy and thus undermined national unity and security to the detriment of our democracy and societal peace and cohesion.
Unfortunately, like the German propagandist Joseph Goebbels asserted, “Tell a lie, a thousand times and it becomes the truth”. This lie against Prof Jega and INEC was allowed to dominate our media space because it was a well orchestrated and funded plot by the powers that be, who had unhappily observed the determination of INEC to trudge on in conducting free, fair and transparent elections despite all the landmines laid in its path in their diabolical plan of shortchanging the electorate come 2015.
Notwithstanding the much sloppiness exhibited by INEC in the discharge of its constitutional responsibility to the Nigerian people, one fact that nobody can take away from the present leadership of the body is its determination to get it right by owning up and apologizing and trying to make amends where it has failed unlike what obtained in the past. Today, we have an INEC that is conscious and sensitive of public perception of its image unlike what obtained in the past when elections were intentionally scandalized by the electoral body and justified by its chairman to the chagrin and assault of the sensibilities of Nigerians.
It is in realization of this fact, that the Odumakin’s “Afenifere” and its other sinister groups being funded by the state which is not interested in actualizing free and fair elections but only mouths it to deceive the populace and the international community have embarked on a consistent campaign of impugning ethnic sentiments to every action of the electoral body using its moles who have been planted there to watch and report back on every laudable step being taken by Prof Jega led leadership of INEC to reposition the electoral system to make our votes count which is against their interest.
Just when their plot of lies of ethicizing the policy of creation of 30,000 polling units was gaining ground, they went further in their diabolical plan by alleging as reported in some national dailies, that Northern Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) of INEC have insisted on implementation of the policy in contrast to their Southern counterparts which was a plot to create confusion within INEC using its agents therein and in the larger society who will lose faith in INEC as a factionalized national electoral body and the consequence of such an action on the society in the outcome of an election is better imagined.
To discerning mind, shock, but embarrassment to the promoters of the above line of lies and propaganda which was exposed for what it was, but INEC succumbed to Yinka Odumakin and his groups blackmail campaign being oiled with state funds, by announcing the suspension of the 30,000 polling unit policy. The situation was not helped by INEC’s public bashing for its embarrassing conduct in the third phase of the distribution of Permanent Voters Card (PVC) in thirteen states.
Today, this enemies of democracy and national unity appears to be winning, but their joy shall be temporary notwithstanding the fact that the policy has been suspended and this appears to have emboldened them the more, which is what has informed the latest assault on Prof. Jega and INEC by Mr. Yinka Odumakin and his “Afenifere” group and of which other supporting clandestine interest groups but masquerading as fighting for Southern interest will also follow suit in dancing to the drum beats of their paymaster. Hence, we owe it a duty to speak up and expose these enemies of democracy and our people for what they are, lest they endanger our collective existence on the altar of personal interest and ambition.
And just on Monday 17th November, 2014, the plot thickened as it was widely reported in the dailies that Mr. Yinka Odumakin of “Afenifere” as the arrow head of the evil campaign to destroy the reputation of Prof. Jega and INEC, by employing ethnic and national security threatening sentiments to aid his removal from office so as to pave way for the appointment of a more amenable electoral umpire to oversee electoral abracadabra come 2015 since it is becoming very clear that such electoral malpractice will not be tolerated by the present uncompromising electoral body, has called on Prof. Jega to quit office by alleging that,
“The attention of Afenifere has been drawn to the query the chairman of the INEC, reportedly issued to mostly southern resident electoral commissioners over his botched attempt to create lopsided 30,000 new polling units.
“The query dripping with venom was issued the very day Jega announced the suspension of the controversial exercise. If it was true that the said query was issued on sectional focus on matter in which the INEC chairman betrayed unpardonable primordial insensitivity, we are bound to conclude that Jega is becoming more dreadful to the health of the polity than the murderous Boko Haram.
“Even without its lopsidedness in favour of Jega’s region of the country, the whole idea of creating new polling units a few months to election was a product of inferior scholarship on election for a man from intellectual region hailed across the country in 2010 as a ‘man of integrity’ when he was nominated for the job in 2010”.
From the above allegation raised by Mr. Odumakin, one can see clearly that he is very much guilty of what he attempts to accuse Prof. Jega of, by reading ethnic sentiments into the actions of a national body that is established by law and which is responsible to the Nigerian people through the oversight monitoring of the National Assembly.
The questions one wants to pose to Mr. Yinka Odumakin in the light of his allegations and which I want Nigerians to demand answers for, are;
1. Since he is in the know about this query as a result of its leakage by agents of destabilization planted in INEC, how many Southern REC’s were issued the query?
2. Is it not a breach of the rules for an outsider to be privy to what obtains in a public institution without invoking the FOI Act?
3. If this query was truly issued, was it to only Southern REC’s?
4. Was these purported query not issued to Northern REC’s, if at all it is true?
5. How did he determine that the query was issued with sectional focus?
6. Can he educate us on the basis for issuing query to officers in a national body like INEC?
Never in the history of our dear country under civilian rule, have we ever witnessed a situation in which the state is engaged in clandestine activities against the unity of the people by sponsoring persons and groups to divide the country along ethnic and religious lines and undermine national institutions, unity, peace and progress via this kind of attack against INEC, all for selfish ambition. Unless and until Nigerians no matter where they are from, rise up to condemn evil and any attempt to cause public chaos, the better for our society and us all.
Thus it becomes imperative for all Nigerians to see Mr. Yinka Odumakin “Afenifere” for what it really represents which is not in the interest of even the Yoruba’s that it is masquerading to represent, but rather that of its paymasters who are for now dictating the tunes and of which other sponsored groups will soon come on board this extended evil plot of remove Prof. Jega, in the days ahead. We are watching and taking notes.
Like they say, a word is enough for the wise!
Nelson Ekujumi is Executive Chairman,Committee for the Protection of Peoples Mandate (CPPM)
NB: Views expressed here are strictly those of the author.