With Soyebi’s Appointment as INEC Chairman, Obasanjo’s domination of Jonathan nears Completion

“We didn’t march for Iwu to go for a Soyebi to take over”

Acting INEC Chairman, Solomom SoyebiWith Solomon Soyebi’s Appointment as INEC Chairman, Obasanjo’s domination of Jonathan nears Completion.

The full return of Olusegun Obasanjo in power would be complete with the looming retirement of the Chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Part, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor. 

Soyebi was imposed on Jonathan three nights ago by Obasanjo in concert with Iwu.

With Soyebi’s Appointment as INEC Chairman, Obasanjo’s domination of Jonathan nears Completion

INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of Information and Publicity, Phillip Umeadi (Jnr.) was billed to take over as head the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) following the sack of the Chairman of, INEC, Professor Maurice Iwu by the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

But on Tuesday May 11, 2010, President Goodluck Jonathan approved the appointment of Prince Solomon Soyebi as the acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

With Soyebi’s Appointment as INEC Chairman, Obasanjo’s domination of Jonathan nears Completion. The full return of Olusegun Obasanjo in power would soon be complete with the looming retirement of the Chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Part, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor.

Sources told that Goodluck Jonathan came under severe pressure from Olusegun Obasanjo and Andy Uba to reverse his earlier directive that Umeadi take over.

“This Soyebi was imposed on Jonathan three nights ago by Obasanjo in concert with Iwu”, the source said, adding, “Jonathan simply allowed OBJ to exert undue pressure on him”.

It would be recalled that Jonathan, on April 27, directed that Iwu should proceed on pre-disengagement leave with effect from April 28. He also directed that Iwu should hand-over to the most senior national officer.

The Acting National Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, after Iwu was sacked Mr. Philip Umeadi, was reported to have said that the out-going National Chairman of the commission, Prof. Maurice Iwu, did not hand-over to him as directed by acting President Goodluck Jonathan, because Iwu was not comfortable with him as his acting successor.

Umeadi told newsmen that he did not have a friendly relationship with Iwu while the later was still chairman because he (Umeadi) detested his methods.

“Iwu is not my friend. I did not let the public know this and I kept quiet because of the system we run,” he explained.

Reacting to speculations that there were plans that the out-going chairman may transfer power to National Commissioner for Operations, Mr. Solomon Soyebi, instead of him, Umeadi said: “How can Soyebi be made acting chairman? He was appointed national officer in August 2007 after his assignment as Resident Electoral Commissioner for Abia and Lagos States. I came in September 2006. The records are there for everyone to see. In any case, my assumption of office is a presidential directive,” he said.

Soyebi was Iwu’s choice for replacement. Iwu reportedly pleaded with Jonathan not to allow Umeadi to replace him but Jonathan rebuffed him.

Then on 9 May 2010, former President Olusegun Obasanjo met with President Goodluck Jonathan.  He was accompanied by his close associate and former domestic aide, Chief Andy Uba, The visit lasted for 30 minutes.

He refused to answer questions from journalists on the outcome of his talk with President Jonathan. But a presidency source told that apart from suggesting a vice presidential candidate for Jonathan, Obasanjo also convinced Jonathan to appoint Soyebi as the new INEC boss.

“The man is from Abeokuta, the home of President Olusegun Obasanjo”, the source said

At that meeting, Obasanjo was said to be strongly pushed for the former minister of Water Resources and incumbent Sokoto State deputy governor, Alhaji Murktar Shagari as the Vice President for Jonathan. A source said Obasanjo is insisting on Shagari being nominated on the grounds that he is not ambitious and is unlikely to rock the boat for the President should he decide to run in 2011.

Apart from that, he said the deputy governor does not have a vast political influence in the north and is unlikely to be accepted by the north to be its presidential choice.

But Jonathan is said to be disposed to Yayale on the ground that he has given him massive support since the controversy in the seat of power started. He is also said to have told Obasanjo that he stood to gain from Yayale’s rich experience in government.

Discerning Nigerians wonder with great wonderment at the influence that Obasanjo exercises over President Jonathan. Many say it is because Obasanjo picked him as the deputy to late President Umaru Yar’adua.

But an informed source insists Jonathan has no reason to be beholden to OBJ as he did not make him the VP as has been widely speculated.

The source said that indeed former Rivers Stae Governor, Peter Odili was Obasanjo’s candidate who was to be announced as Yar’adua’s running mate. But it was Nuhu Ribadu and El-Rufai who removed that page and inserted “I will announce my running mate after due consultations”.

Thereafter, Jonathan was nominated as vice because his quite mien would jelly with Yar’adua’s personality.

“There is the need to separate Obasanjo from Jonathan. The man does not mean well for Nigeria and anything he touches will turn into ashes”! He said

Mr. Solomon Soyebi was the Electoral Commissioner who conducted the Abia State Gubernatorial election on April 21, 2007 that was massively rigged. Under him, former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu engineered a massive landslide for his party, PPA.

According to a PDP member from Abia state, “PPA did not win the election in Abia state. There was no election. After looting Abia state blind and converting its cities to rubbish heaps, Orji Kalu simply stole the election and planted his cousin Theodore Orji as successor.

“The PPA rigging machinery is strong in Abia, and they simply used their thuggish incumbency to overwhelm the PDP rigging machine”.

To this man, “Soyebi is utterly evil”. investigations reveal that on the eve of the Abia election, Soyebi abadoned the hotel reserved for him and decided to spend the night at the Goverment House where Orji Uzo Kalu compromised him, leading to the rigging of the election.

“That made T.A Orji of PPA (Kalu’s party) who was then cooling off at Kirikiri Prison on corruption charges to win the election; he never campaigned one day for. After Soyebi announced T.A. Orji as the winner, the then State chairman of PDP wanted to manhandle him that he had to run away from the state in a Ben Johnson style”.

Orji was released from prison to assume the mantle as governor of Abia State clothed in Constitutional immunity.

“Let’s hope Soyebi will not act for more than a week or two. He is worse than Maurice Iwu. He is said to be corrupt through and through. We didn’t march against Iwu to go for a Soyebi to take over”, another democracy activist said.

To another observer, “Obasanjo cannot rest unless he finishes Nigeria and he is roving so freely under Jonathan that when he is not getting one lackey into position, he is bargaining amnesty for another attack dog. We are in for very terrible times”.

A political analyst told, “Please everything should be done to stop the emergence of Soyebi as INEC Chairman, otherwise everything Iwu did wrong as the INEC Chairman would pale into insignificance when compared to what Soyebi can do. He is two times worse than Iwu: You can take that to the bank”.

Jonathan as then Acting President directed that Maurice Iwu hand over to the most senior INEC Commissioner who will take charge until a substantive head is appointed.  The most senior commissioner that should have taken over is Victor Chukwuani from Enugu State. But he also has been directed to proceed on pre- disengagement leave with immediate effect by Goodluck Jonathan. That left Phillip Umeadi as the next in line as the most senior Commissioner.

Statutorily, INEC has 12 national commissioners. Nine completed their tour of duty last year and the vacancies were yet to be filled before President Umaru Yar’Adua took ill late last year. Of the three left, Mr. Victor Chukwuani, Commissioner for Legal Duties, was also instructed to proceed on pre-disengagement leave, leaving Mr. Solomon Soyebi, National Commissioner for Operations, and Mr. Philip Umeadi.

From available data, the tenures of seven commissioners who came on board along with Iwu then in August 2003 had lapsed in August 2008 and they were not replaced.

The commissioners were Ekpeyong Nsa from Akwa Ibom, Zetley Daze from Plateau, Abubakar from Bauchi, Reuben Farukanmi from Ondo, Bello Bala from Sokoto, Emmanuel Anuka Uchola from Kogi and Mrs. Esther Zala from Taraba.

The tenure of Muhammed Jumare from the North-west, however, expired on April 21, 2009, thus leaving the commission with the four members at present. Apart from Iwu, the three other commissioners are Victor Chukwuani from Enugu State, Phillip Umeadi (Jnr) from Anambra and Solomon Adedeji Soyebi from Ogun.

However, a statement signed by the INEC Secretary, Mr Abdullahi Kaugama Yesterday, said the appointment of Prince Solomon Soyebi was in conformity with section 14 (1a) of the third schedule of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria.

It stated that the section stipulated that the INEC should be headed by a Chairman, who, among other considerations must not be less than 50 years of age.

The statement added that Soyebi’s appointment would be pending the appointment of a substantive Chairman.