Attahiru Jega, the chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), said Thursday he will give up the postition when his current term expires in June after five years at the helm, the Daily Post in Nigeria reported. Jega and other election officials were recently accused of bias and malpractice in association with the country’s general elections last weekend, when opposition challenger Muhammadu Buhari beat incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and the long-ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost its majority in the nation’s legislature.
“I am grateful to God. I was asked to come and contribute my own quota to the national development, and I have done my bit to the best of my ability,” Jega said in an interview with the BBC’s Hausa service, according to the Daily Post. “Whatever assignment one will do for five years -- just like this difficult one, to me if one is able to successfully accomplish the task, someone else should be given the opportunity, because for me I am not interested and if I am requested to serve again, I will not do it, by God’s grace.”
Jega, who was appointed by Jonathan to replace Maurice Iwu in 2010, said he was not concerned about the allegations of bias against him by the PDP because he knew they were untrue. “I maintained my calmness because I knew all the allegations were false,” he said. “There is nothing that frightens me or disturbs me because, of all our actions, we have explanations for them.”
Peter Godsday Orubebe, a PDP official, interrupted a vote-counting meeting at the International Conference Center in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja Tuesday to object to the incoming results of the bitterly contested presidential election. Orubebe, a former minister of Niger Delta affairs, seized the microphone at the podium and accused Jega and the INEC of bias. Orubebe said he would not allow the tallying of results to continue until Jega returned to his office and addressed the complaints raised by the PDP, the Daily Post reported at the time.
“We have raised issues about results in Kano, in Kaduna, Jigawa and Katsina, and yet you have done nothing about it. You are biased. You are partial. You are tribalistic,” Orubebe told Jega. “We don’t believe in you anymore. You are compromised. And we won’t take it from you.”
The heated exchange lasted for 30 minutes until Orubebe was led away from the podium. Jega immediately dismissed the allegations and resumed announcing the election results from various states. “I reject the so-called petition because it was brought to me while I was at the hall presenting results,” he said Tuesday, according to Turkey’s Anadolu news agency. “It is improper for any party agent to do so. For that reason, I do not take it, because other party agents and the media could be watching.”