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Nigeria: I Am Under Pressure – Jega Reveals

Professor Attahiru Jega, INEC Chairman

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, yesterday revealed that there was pressure on him in some quarters to tamper with the May 29 handover date.

The INEC chairman also denied ever blackmailing the National Assembly over fears that timelines for the 2011 elections might not be met. Jega made this disclosure when he appeared before the Senate joint committees on INEC and public petitions.

Speaking at the joint committee, he stated that. “I was very concerned when the news came to me about certain things that were reported in the media which led to my invitation to appear before the Senate committees.”

He continued, “There was nothing like blackmailing the National Assembly. I did not say that the signals from the National Assembly suggest that they would frustrate the work of the commission, I did not blame the National Assembly for anything, there is no iota of truth in what was reported. I did not make such assertions.

The INEC chairman further explained that although he was rightly quoted, the quotes were out of context, adding, “the blazing headlines were taken out of context and conveyed different messages.”

He continued, “If anybody should appear here it should be those who made the headlines, because we at the commission we need the assistance of the legislature and the executive. Therefore I have never and will never make statements that are not of reality.

“Of course, you senators know as much as we in the commission know that there are some people putting pressure on the INEC for extension beyond May 29th 2011. The senators know and we also know at the commission. These are the signals that I talked about and I did not blame the National Assembly.

“I want to restate that all the allegations are not true. I did not say all that was alleged and I could not have said so because we are getting enough cooperation from you and we are indeed grateful.”

Having listened to the INEC chairman, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Defence and Army, Senator Ibrahim Ida, warned the INEC chairman against talking more than settling down to do his job.

Meanwhile, minister of finance Mr. Olusegun Aganga yesterday said that the Federal Government would complete the disbursement of the N87 billion supplementary budget approved for the INEC to prosecute the new voters registration campaign for the 2011 elections by the end of today.

Aganga spoke when he gave a rundown of the level of implementation of the 2010 Appropriation to the joint Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on Appropriation. He, disclosed that before now the Federal Government releases N11 billion monthly, and would be completed by the end of today

Aganga, however, disclosed that although government has fully realised the projected budget revenue, yet there is already a budget deficit of N2.6 trillion for 2010. The minister, had in his introductory remarks to the committee, which summoned him to discuss the level of implementation of the year’s budget, said that so far, the budget has achieved 53.47% implementation by the end of September.

According to Aganga, the revenue target for the period under review was N2.4 trillion and this has not only been fully realized but that excess revenue was even transferred into the excess crude oil account.

In addition, he revealed that the Federal Ministry of Finance has fully released recurrent portion of the budget which is N3.2 trillion for the whole year.