‘We are worried for Ndigbo in the event of electoral violence’
The National Leader of the Movement for the Actualization for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) Ralph Uwazurike said there is a need to ensure that poor organization of the 2015 elections does not snowball into a crisis because Ndigbo usually suffers in the event of any crisis. Speaking to journalists in Owerri, he said the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should review his continued stay in office. KODILINYE OBIAGWU, South East Bureau Chief was there. Excerpts:
DO you actually believe that Jega poses a problem going into the election?
As at now, I believe from what is on the ground, the allegations against him and his body language show that he is not ready to conduct the election. Some months to the election, he created some 30,000 amorphous polling units and skewed its allocation in favour of the North. That alone created some suspicions that disqualifies him. He should have resigned on the basis of that alone. He is a problem because most of the candidates and a section of the country do not have confidence in him.
President Goodluck Jonathan has said that he has no intention of asking Jega to go. Where is your position on this vis a vis the constitutional process of appointing and removing an INEC chairman?
As a matter of fact, it is not the president’s place to remove Jega. It is a constitutional matter; it is the function of the National Assembly. There are moral and legal aspects of the situation. Morally, Jega has compromised. With or without the provisions of the constitution, he should have resigned. He was accused of having meetings with Arewa Elders Forum. He has denied this in spite of the welter of evidence against him. He was accused of meeting with some governors of a political party. He has not denied this. The Southern Leaders Forum have passed a vote of no confidence on him and asked him to resign.
In law, where two people are in dispute, once one person establishes or expresses doubts about the integrity of the Judge, the Judge is bound to step down from the case. Why is Jega insisting that he must conduct the election by all means?
Professor Maurice Iwu and the late Dr. Abel Guobadia resigned three months before their tenure elapsed. Why should Jega be treated differently? Nobody is an under dog in Nigeria; no body was born to rule. Jega must resign because others like him have done their bit and gone.
If Jega drops dead today, the elections will hold. Nobody is bigger than the country and there are many intellectuals like Jega in INEC who can conduct the elections. No one should subvert the provisions of the constitution for any reasons.
Obviously, anything Jega does outside the dictates of the constitution is null and void. The argument that the election is near and nothing should be done to disrupt it is neither here nor there. It doesn’t follow in law. Jega was not there when the provisions of the law were made. They were not made with him in mind. His successors followed it, why should he put it aside.
Do you anticipate his resignation leading to another shift of dates for the election?
It will not lead to another shift. It is clear that Jega was not ready for the elections. He said he postponed the elections on grounds of security but it is not true. Even now, he is not ready to hold the elections. Today, we are still talking of unprinted ballot papers, to the extent that some governors are going to court to ask for the permanent voters card (PVCs) meant for their states. Just how prepared is Jega? Instead of facing his preparations, Jega is giving the excuse that in previous elections, not up to 100 percent of the people voted. Is that a reason to disenfranchise anybody? His duty is to provide the electoral materials and let the voter decide what he wants to do.
Do you see any stalemate between the North and the South over Jega in the conduct of the election?
Jega is the one creating this tension. His refusal to go is raising suspicion with one side urging him to go ahead. There must be something going on behind the scenes. Why is he refusing to go, knowing that his tenure is up? Is he the only Nigerian that can conduct an election? The Southern leaders have already told him that if he is conducting the election, he should do it for the North. Certainly, we have come out to say that there will be no election in the South if Jega insists. The entire South will not participate. The distribution of PVCs was skewed against the peaceful South where we have war torn areas getting 90 per cent success in the distribution of PVCs. We sense a hidden agenda there. This has nothing to do with any candidate.
Will MASSOB participate in the election?
We in MASSOB have not asked any of our members not to vote; MASSOB members are ready to vote but it is not compulsory. It is the spate of killings of Ndigbo that is really disturbing. If this election is not well handled, it will snowball into crises and the Igbo, who are scattered all over the country, will suffer. Recently, over a hundred buses were dispatched to convey Ndigbo from the northern parts of the country because they are vulnerable to attacks in any part of Nigeria. We are often the first casualties in any crisis. This is about saving the lives of Ndigbo. If there is an outbreak of violence and Ndigbo are killed in the North, and you stop Ndigbo from killing northerners in the south, you will be termed a collaborator. So it is better to nip this in the bud.
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