Monday, April 04, 2011

Theatre of The Absurd IV : INEC Goofed!

Yesterday, I received with much disappointment the news of the initial postponement of the NASS elections till Monday 4th April.

One thing was immediately obvious - Monday would not be feasible. Trying to conduct the elections on Monday would create a logistical logjam which would make the late delivery of result sheets on Saturday look like child's play by comparison. Also, it would raise serious questions about the fairness of the process, as the ballot papers and other materials already in circulation could already be compromised by then. It was plain that most likely, a new set of materials would need to be printed - making a longer postponement necessary.

With that in view, it was not particularly surprising that the NASS elections were further postponed to the 9th April. Holding those elections tomorrow would have been a recipe for disaster.

A truth remains that Professor Jega demonstrated great courage by going on air to announce the postponement of the elections, and he must be commended for that. Lesser men confronted with the same problem could have chosen a number of less honourable ways out. Some person might have chosen to continue with the process and simply have reruns in badly hit areas, while yet another might have chosen to brazenly proceed with the declaration of pre-decided outcomes - and risk kicking off serious civil strife.

That said - it remains that the excuse that result sheets were delivered late is by no means a tenable one.

While I am no Project Manager, I have a decent understanding of the basics and I posit that any Project Manager would have identified the delivery of result sheets as a 'critical path activity', and treated it as such. A critical path activity is one which if delayed for a period of time would delay the entire project by the same amount of time. However, in the assumed absence of a certified PMP on the INEC staff, common sense dictates that allowances be made for such "failure(s) on the part of the vendor". If such allowances were made in the selection of the date, the award of the contract, and the follow up monitoring of the "vendor" - that postponement would not have been necessary.

Professor Jega was definitely not directly responsible for communicating with the vendor and monitoring the delivery of those result sheets. Most likely, someone else was directly responsible - and that someone else would have provided him with continuous feedback. Of course, the fact that he is the overall head of INEC makes him responsible for all failures - and successes - that occur on his watch, whether he was directly responsible for making them happen or not.

The failure of INEC to ensure the smooth running of the NASS elections on Saturday speaks volumes of the gross ineptitude of most State run enterprises in Nigeria. The AVERAGE civil servant in Nigeria is grossly underpaid, ill-motivated, incompetent, and lacks all understanding of the concepts of punctuality, timelines, and deadlines. It is no wonder then that an organization staffed by AVERAGE civil servants cannot manage to put together a decent election.

It is also necessary to respond to those calling for the resignation of Professor Jega. Professor Jega's resignation at this moment would be sabotage of the electoral process. His resignation will necessitate the appointment of a new person, who would need time to learn the ropes and probably adjust some of the plans - rendering the constitutional handover date of May 29 impossible.

Professor Jega has done a good thing by taking responsibility and an even wiser thing by further postponing the elections till next Saturday - but he has failed horribly. Yet, he has a chance to redeem his image by ensuring that free and fair elections hold on the new dates.

Finally, I submit this quote by Plutarch for your consideration - "to criticize is easy, to do better may be difficult".


(Please go through my archive for earlier incarnations of my Theatre of the Absurd series).

1 comment:

  1. They really goofed, but calling for his resignation will be counter-productive. I just hope a week is enough for INEC to put their acts in order.