By Bode Gbadebo
For over 20 minutes, he sat with stoic calm as he was drenched with the most uncharitable invectives by Gosday Orubebe, a former minister and agent of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega has become the cynosure of all eyes since he was appointed June 8, 2010. His pedigree as an academic and strident critic of successive governments made him an endangered specie the day he accepted to serve in that capacity.
But the professor, who many said was the presiding officer over Nigeria matters in the last couple of months, deserves both empathy and commendation. Distrusted and vilified for being too strict, the man of the moment didn’t care whose ox was gored.
Pressured to postpone elections by six weeks, the temptations did not disarm him from his resolve to conduct a free, fair and credible elections. It will go down in history that Jega was a man who stood firm where many faltered. It was under his supervision as an electoral chief umpire that an incumbent president was unseated.
Many who should have been kicked out due to their inept and corrupt leadership had purchased the conscience of his predecessors and stampeded the lilly-livered among them to compromise. But not Jega.
Even when in full glare of the world media, Orubebe rudely addressed and threatened him yesterday, the verbal assault that flowed like the torrential rain didn’t hurt the rebel with a cause.
Erudite, patriotic and level-headed, the professor of political science took the assault with philosophical equanimity. He also tutored the middle aged Elder Orubebe some lessons on public conduct and morality. After all as a teacher on an important national assignment he knows better than the man who fortuitous circumstances thrust up as a minister because of his record of unscrupulous militancy and rascality.
The former chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has acquitted himself honourably in this national assignment.
Jega has proven to be the hero of democratic innovations through the insistence on using card reader as means of authenticating voters in the upcoming 2015 elections, in a nation where satanic madness rages over the transparent conduct of elections.
Though his integrity and neutrality, the soft-spoken Kebbi-born academic has midwifed true transition that has never been witnessed in the country’s history. He has ushered in a new dawn.