The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, Thursday, met with observer groups accredited for the 2015 general elections in Abuja.
INEC accredited 88 observer groups, comprising 16 foreign bodies and 72 domestic groups, for the elections slated for March 28 and April 11.
At the meeting, Mr. Jega confirmed the readiness of INEC for the elections.
“We are on course,” he said. “I am aware there are still lingering concerns on whether the election would hold or not. Let me say I do not see any indication from any quarters of any wish to further postpone the elections.”
Following the postponement of the elections, earlier scheduled to begin February 14, Mr. Jega said INEC had been making efforts to review and decide “on how best to utilize the six-week extension to add value to the logistical and operational preparations of the elections.”
Although he expressed regret the elections were rescheduled, he, however, said, “We believe effective utilization of the period of extension would enable INEC to a vastly improved 2015 elections.”
In the course of the extension period, Mr. Jega said, INEC had made advances in the areas of further public demonstration of the card readers, PVCs collection rate, additional training of personnel and increased public orientation as well as consultation with stakeholders.
The field-testing of the card readers held on March 7 in 12 states, yielding 100 per cent success in PVC authentication but 41 per cent failure in biometric validation. And as of March 17, at least 56,350,776 voters, being 81.87 per cent of the 68,833,476 registered for the elections, had been given their permanent voter cards.
Saying the poll shift was necessary “in the circumstances”, he added that it would afford the observers of the “opportunity to better contextualise the elections, improve your understanding of the environment and properly study INEC’s level of preparedness.”
Mr. Jega however reminded the observer groups that Nigerian law system limits their responsibility during elections to observation but not monitoring. He said only INEC personnel can be involved in election monitoring conceptualised by INEC guidelines as having being integral part of the election management structure. Unlike monitors “who have lawful authority over the conduct of the election”, observers do not have a role to play in the administration of the election nor any control or oversight function.
A “last minute” briefing preceding the elections will hold on March 24, Mr. Jega said.