Have university dons become rotten eggs to be dumped from Nigeria’s electoral process?
The former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, recently took his colleagues, in the academia, to the cleaners when he confessed that university lecturers, especially those at Bayero University (BUK), Kano State, engaged themselves in some nasty and dirty activities targeted at undermining the electoral process in the last elections.
Jega shakes a wobbly electoral stool
This bombshell Prof. Jega unleashed shook the table ferociously and its effects are still reverberating within the polity.
Thoroughly shaken is the academia, once revered and considered home of everything decent and nice.
Jega’s reproach may have become a pill too bitter to swallow but it has provided a talking point for all lovers of democracy.
Prof Jega, who was once the Vice Chancellor of BUK, unleashed this bombshell at the elite members of the academia while speaking as the Chairman at the 15th annual conference of the Fulbright Alumni Association of Nigeria (FAAN), held at Dangote Business School, Bayero University, Kano State.
When gold rusts
According to him: “Look at what happened during the last elections, and the story of irregularities being spread even in the four walls of BUK.
The politicians, through crooked means, got alliances with lecturers in the university to compromise the system and they perpetrated all sort of irregularities, which paved way for a faulty process for the continued entrenchment of bad people in governance.
“Maybe, I am preaching to the converted or I am talking nonsense but frankly speaking, I am beginning to think that we are not taking the obligations of scholarship and intellectual engagement with the seriousness it deserves.
I think the major crisis in Nigeria’s democracy is that our electoral integrity has been under assault, compromised and undermined by those who have control over the process.”
For Prof. Jega, who managed two general elections in 2011 and 2015, to have opened up on this, it lays bare the corrupting and scandalously awful roles and engagements of our university dons in the conduct of elections in the country.
There were several humiliating and disgraceful reports of university dons who soiled their hands in collaboration with politicians in the last elections which echoes the question: have university dons become rotten eggs to be dumped from Nigeria’s electoral process?
As electoral umpires, university dons have the onerous responsibility of ensuring that the electoral process is basically credible and bereft of any flaws.
They are expected to be as painstaking as ever in executing this national task. This is because any leadership recruitment exercise that is flawed is bound to boomerang on the people. Producing bad leaders based on the ineptitude of the electoral umpire is most frustrating and a big minus to the society.
Too appalling is the realization that some university dons have failed to grasp the import of this dignifying national task given to them, as many of them handle it in the most contemptible and demeaning manner.
Drunk on the Plateau
Imagine the utter shame when INEC, immediately after the last elections, apologized over the conduct of one Prof. Musa Izam, the Collation Officer, assigned to Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau State.
He was reported to have abscondedbfrom his duty post after he purportedly got drunk on Election Day.
This is a Professor who is assumed to be a role model to his hundreds of students. One could imagine the terrible punishment he can possibly give to his student for missing his exam on the embarrassing excuse of being drunk. Having a respected Professor as a Collation Officer who gets married to green bottles on Election Day can only give you a glimpse of the kind of mess Nigeria is entangled in for using high intelligentsia as electoral umpires. Those who argue that this is one reason we keep electing bad leaders, who keep getting us chained to poverty, infrastructural decay, insecurity and the like.