June 12 of each year is commemorated by many Nigerians to recollect the infamous decision by the General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida's administration to annul what is considered the freest and fairest election in Nigeria’s 96 years history since its creation in 1914 by Lord Fredrick Lugard.
This year’s June 12 is significant in more ways than one. First, the appointment of an erudite professor of political science and Vice Chancellor of the Bayero University Kano, Professor Attahiru Jega (OFR), as the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Secondly, Nigeria’s opening match against Argentina at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The appointment of Professor Attahiru Jega has been hailed by those who have worked with him in various capacities as well as students under his tutelage. However, Prof. Jega must realize the task that lies ahead of him.
Having worked with Professor Maurice Iwu as a superior officer in the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) between 1988 – 1994 and a consultant to INEC under Iwu’s administration; it is expected that he must have known Iwu’s weak points as an administrator and rise against his flaws.
Professor Jega must also resist the temptation of dubious Nigerian politicians who will soon besiege him with juicy offers of oil rigs, contracts and Ghana must go bags.
The government of the day must also ensure that the Independent National Electoral Commission is truly independent in all ramifications.
Nigerians expect that if Professor Jega could turn down his nomination for appointment as a minister under the General Sani Abacha military regime, he should be able to do more in a democratic Nigeria by resigning his appointment should any attempt be made by the government of the day to bargain away his hard earned reputation.
On the other hand, the Super Eagles must play out their hearts in their opening match against Argentina at the first World Cup to be held on African soil.
President Goodluck Jonathan’s presence at the opening match should be an honour to boost their morale.
Nigerians must look beyond the weaknesses of the Super Eagles and their technical crew and speak positively about the team as there is no better way to support them.