Nigeria2015: No going back on February 14 presidential election – INEC

Added Voters’ Register, AVR, will not be used for 2015 polls
The INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, on Thursday in London, said there was no going back on the February 14 date fixed for the 2015 Presidential and National Assembly elections.

“When we fix dates for elections, we stick to them and do not just make changes except something bad happens. In 2011, we had some challenges with the National Assembly elections and  had to move it forward by one week. But in 2015 general elections, the dates have been fixed and we do not intend to make changes. We are not prepared as a body to conduct all elections in one day, that is why we are starting with two categories for now,” he said

He said the Commission  looked at best global practices before fixing the Presidential and National Assembly elections on the same day. The Gubernatorial and State Assembly would also take place simultaneously on the same day.

He also said that the continuous voters’ registration exercise would hold from June to September this year to enable those who had attained the age of 18 to get registered.

Mr. Jega, who had earlier presented a paper, titled, The 2015 Election and  INEC, during a lecture at the U.K. Centre for  Strategic and International Studies, listed logistics, attitude of political class and delay in amendment to the legal framework, as some challenges to elections in the country.

He said that the Commission had taken into consideration some lapses from the Anambra elections, adding that it would not use the Added Voters’ Register, AVR, for the 2015 polls. The AVR contains names of those not captured in the Electronic Voters’ Register, EVR, because of late registration. Mr. Jega, however, said that such names would be transferred to the electronic register before elections to avoid what happened during the Anambra governorship election.

He said that the Commission had improved on its synergy with security agencies, and stressed the need for police protection for electoral staff especially those at the polling centres.

The INEC boss also asked for more collaboration with development partners, and listed capacity building and technology as areas where assistance would be required.

“Such partnership in capacity building will address the problem of skill gaps. We also face a systematic challenge with data gathering, for example, removing names of  the deceased from the voter’s register, so we need the right technology for this,” he added.

Mr. Jega while urging the media to be professional in news dissemination also tasked civil society groups on voter education.

In his contribution, Richard Downie, Deputy Director African Programme  at the  U.K. Centre for  Strategic and International Studies, said that a credible, free and fair election should be a collective responsibility of all stakeholders, and not INEC alone.

Mr. Downie, who chaired the lecture, said the event was put together by the Institute to give an insight on INEC’s preparedness for the 2015 general elections.

(NAN)


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