Jega clears air says he never threatened to leave office

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega, has finally cleared the air on rumors that made the rounds before and after the 2015 elections saying he was never threatened or told to proceed on leave or retire by anybody or authority. He added that his security aides were never withdrawn contrary to what went round on the media.

Jega, who spoke during a programme organized by EbonyLife TV tasked the new administration to try its best to ensure that the hopes and aspirations of Nigerians are realized, disclosed that during the elections, his security aides were never withdrawn for a second, contrary to what many were made to believe.

“In our country, anything is possible. Frankly, the rumor mill in our country is incredible; a lot is manufactured, circulated and assumes a life of its own. Sincerely, I did not feel that I was under any threat; nobody threatened me and at no time was my security detail withdrawn.

“Even as I was sitting down at the collation centre, I even got text messages that my security men had been withdrawn, and they were there around me. So there were a lot of things that were said that weren’t true.

“The same thing was said that I was asked to go on retirement or proceed on leave. A lot of rumours about me being asked to proceed on leave were not true. Nobody or authority asked me to proceed on retirement or go on leave, and I never contemplated going on leave because I knew there was a job to be done.

“So I thought it was inconceivable for anybody to think that the leadership of INEC was contemplating leaving at that time. There were a lot of stories then that were untrue but that doesn’t mean we were not careful. Again, knowing the nature of our country, we have to be very careful at any point. Personally, I had to assume the worst and prepared for the worst but we thank God it did not come to that,” he said.

“Nigerians believe in democracy, they have struggled for it and have been repeatedly frustrated, so it is very important that the window of opportunity which now exists for the satisfaction of the aspirations of Nigerians for democracy is best utilized.

“Therefore I want to thank you for this opportunity given to me, and for thinking that we have done well for our country. I believe that we took the job at INEC as a duty to contribute to a reformed process.

“That process, I believe, has just started and there is tremendous hope for moving forward, for improving upon it and for it to impact positively on the governance process in our country. And everybody has a role and a responsibility to play in the process,” he added.

ThisDay reported that Jega promised to continue serving his country in any capacity whenever he is called upon, stating that for now, he needed a break.

“I will continue to serve this country until I can do it no more. So I am not running away from public service, I can work and contribute anywhere. But the only thing here is that I have done five years in INEC and I need a break.

“I also believe I didn’t do it alone, I achieved that with people and those people are still there, and each one of them can do his or her best if given the opportunity.

“I never thought I could do this job, I was just asked to come and do it. In fact, my friends and family were saying ‘don’t do it because you have some integrity, and you are going to be messed up’, but I told them that what is integrity if it cannot be tested?

“Although I tested it, it was a though test. I firmly believe that we have done our best for our country, and any opportunity to serve our country, we will do so but for now, let somebody else come to INEC and do the job,” he said.

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