Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Muhammadu Jega, yesterday came down hard on university lecturers for allegedly conniving with politicians to undermine the integrity and outcome of this year’s general elections.
He regretted that the dons facilitated the faulty recruitment process of the political class during the polls, thus betraying the confidence the electoral body reposed in them.
Teachers of Bayero University Kano (BUK) had severally come under stern criticisms for their roles in the last governorship election in the state.
Jega, who spoke as chairman of the 15th yearly conference of the Fulbright Alumni Association of Nigeria at BUK, cited how prominent politicians in Kano “penetrated the academia to commit irregularities.”
The erstwhile national president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) charged scholars to join the crusade of entrenching good governance in the country.
He noted that not every university teacher had the integrity to add value to the polity.
His words: “ 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 pave 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.”
The BUK ex-vice chancellor insisted that electoral integrity in Nigeria was under assault by those who control power.
He submitted that the nation’s endemic challenges of the stagnant economy, under-development and security would persist in the absence of a painstaking leadership recruitment drive.
Jega went on: “ 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.”
Besides, the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Owasanoye, has said INEC cannot on its own prosecute electoral offenders.
He stated this yesterday in Keffi, Nasarawa State at the National Policy Dialogue on Eradicating Electoral Corruption with focus on vote buying.
Owasanoye noted: “ The Electoral Act empowers INEC to prosecute electoral offenders but realistically, we know that it does not have that powers. Sometimes, anti-corruption agencies are available to support INEC.”