The Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Maurice Iwu has been ordered to proceed on pre-disengagement leave by the country’s Acting President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. In a statement signed by spokesman of the Acting President Mr. Ima Niboro, Iwu was directed to: “proceed on pre- disengagement leave with immediate effect.”
Iwu has come under heavy criticism for what his most ferocious critics call the “worst elections ever held in the world” in 2007. He has always defended the elections he has organized. However, many off the election results have been overturned at the election tribunals and other law courts in the country and there are still many of such cases yet to be concluded in the third year of a four-year tenure.
This implies that the wrong people could be holding priviledged elective positions in Nigeria for at least three years before they are eventually replaced by the true winners of elections held in 2007.
Political observers see his removal as a step in the right direction by the Acting President who was told by American President Barack Obama on his recent trip to the United States in clear terms that he must ensure that the forth-coming general elections in 2011 are free and fair. Many civil society groups held several rallies against the continued stay of Iwu as INEC chairman last month. With some other groups suspected to be sponsored by Iwu also requesting that his tenure be extended for him to do a “better job”.
Many political observers believe that the removal of Iwu is just a part of the key decisions that Acting President Jonathan will have to take in the coming months to ensure free and fair elections thereby ensuring that credible leadership emerges for Africa’s most populous nation by May 29, 2011.