Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission is set to hold credible elections starting March 28 after delaying the ballots by six weeks, its Chairman Attahiru Jega said. “We believe we have done everything humanly possible to be able to conduct elections that are free, fair, credible and peaceful,” Jega told reporters on Monday in the capital, Abuja. “We are adequately prepared.” Out of 68.8 million people on the electoral register, 56 million, or 81 percent, have collected voter cards, from 67.8 million printed for national distribution, he said.
Protesting youths, under the umbrella of “Middle Belt Concerned Youths” on Wednesday, stormed the national headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja, protesting the use of permanent voter cards (PVCs) and the card readers for the elections. This was just as they also called on the Federal Government to sack the INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega with immediate effect. However, the youth, who arrived the Maitama headquarters of INEC in hired luxury buses around 8.00 a.m. were prevented by armed policemen and other security agents, who cordoned the INEC office. The youths, armed with various placards, were received by an Assistant Director in charge of security, Victor Egbo, on behalf of the commission. He received their protest letter with a promise to deliver same to the commission’s chairman.
A senior official of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has refuted reports that the use of card readers to authenticate voters is unconstitutional. Both the 1999 constitution and the Electoral Act of 2010 stipulate that “electronic voting is prohibited for now.” Critics say those laws are also meant to cover the use of electronic readers to check voter registration cards. But Nick Dazang, INEC’s Deputy Director for Public Affairs said critics are misunderstanding the measures. “The card reader we are deploying for the elections is meant only for accrediting voters before they vote,” said Dazang. “Electronic voting means using a machine to vote. And in the instance of the card reader, the only thing it does is to accredit and authenticate the voter and then verify the voter as the genuine voter of the Permanent Voter Card [PVC] that we are using for the election.”
The delay of Nigeria’s elections, originally scheduled for Feb. 14 and now set for March 28, did not exactly come as a surprise for Nigeria watchers. The Associated Press reported nearly 12 hours before the announcements that the elections would be pushed back six weeks, referencing an anonymous source. Princeton Lyman, in Foreign Policy, advocated for a delay of the elections due to the difficulties posed by the “nearly one million people displaced or controlled by Boko Haram.” Others, including National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki, noted that the low levels of voter ID card distribution would hamper the election’s credibility. In particular, the uneven distribution of voter ID cards among Nigeria’s states portended political violence in a country with a short history of democracy and a long history of inter-regional distrust. And yet, when Attahiru Jega, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, arrived at the press conference to announce the delays, after a delay of more than five hours, voter ID distribution and IDPs were not on the agenda.
Nigeria’s electoral commission has said it is postponing the Feb. 14 presidential election until March 28 due to security concerns, caving in to pressure from the ruling People’s Democratic Party in a move likely to enrage the opposition. Foreign powers are closely observing how elections will be held in Africa’s biggest economy and have voiced concerns over violence in the aftermath, as was the case after the 2011 election, when 800 people died. The postponement could stoke unrest in opposition strongholds such as the commercial capital, Lagos, and Nigeria’s second city, Kano, because the opposition has been staunchly against a delay. … “The commission cannot lightly wave off the advice of the nation’s security chiefs … The risk of deploying young men and women and calling people to exercise their democratic rights in a situation where their security cannot be guaranteed is a most onerous responsibility,” Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman Attahiru Jega told reporters.
The head of Nigeria’s electoral commission said on Tuesday the country will hold a presidential election as scheduled on Feb. 14, rejecting a call from one of the president’s advisors to delay them. “We remain committed to implementing the timetable,” commission head Attahiru Jega told a news conference. President Goodluck Jonathan’s National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki said last week that Nigeria should delay the election to allow more time for permanent voter cards (PVCs) to be distributed. Some 30 million have yet to be handed out. “We do not believe that the challenges of PVC distribution are such that it warrants rescheduling the election,” Jega said.
Nigeria: Jega promises improved 2015 elections as senator rules out electronic voting | Premium Times Nigeria
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Attahiru Jega, on Tuesday assured that the Commission will improve on its performance in the 2015 general elections. Mr. Jega stated this during the public presentation of INEC Strategic Plan (2012-2016) in Abuja where the Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Alkali Jajere, ruled out electronic voting in the 2015 polls. Mr. Jega, who was responding to the suggestions made by the leaders of some of the political parties that INEC should sit up in order to ensure smooth and successful polls, come 2015, said the Commission would be transparent and accountable to retain the confidence stakeholders have in it.
Fire razed a section of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s headquarters in Abuja, Monday, causing pandemonium around the Maitama area of the Federal Capital Territory, as staff of the commission ran to different directions for safety. The incident came barely 18 months after a similar one occurred in the office of the commission’s chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, causing destruction on the visitors’ room as well as some computer sections.
Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) will soon issue millions of permanent voter cards in time for the next general election, according to Nick Dazang, the INEC deputy director public affairs. “INEC has given out a contract for the production of the first batch of 40 million permanent voter cards to be distributed before the 2015 general elections,” said Dazang. The electoral commission, which registered over 73 million new voters for the 2011 general elections, at the time, issued temporary cards to voters. But, Dazang said INEC has signed contracts for the production of permanent cards with special electronic security features.
Nigeria: Politicians Condemn Voting Rights For Nigerian Election Commission Officials | Leadership Newspapers
Some politicians in Lagos on Monday condemned plans by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow electoral officers exercise their franchise in the 2015 general elections. The politicians argued that the proposal would not serve the electoral process well, but would rather compound its problems. It would be recalled that Prof. Attahiru Jega, INEC Chairman, had on June 21, categorically said that electoral officers would vote in 2015, to end their disenfranchisement in the country’s electoral history. He explained that it was one of the measures being put in place by the commission to enhance the credibility of electoral process. In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday, a chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mr Sunny Moniedafe, said that electoral officers should be excluded from voting. “I don’t think it is proper for them to vote because it will affect their job of conducting election and they will be distracted. Of course, if there are competent people to take over while they go and vote, fine,” he said.
Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters and Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Attahiru Jega yesterday pondered over the possibility of conducting electronic voting system in Nigeria in the 2015 general elections.
Briefing members of the committee led by Rep Jerry Manwe (PDP, Tara), Jega said INEC was being proactive on the possibility of electronic voting in 2015.
The leader of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) poll observer team says Liberia’s electoral body seems to have adequately prepared for today’s (Tuesday’s) vote. Attahiru Jega, who is also chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says the regional bloc has deployed about 150 observers to monitor Liberia’s presidential and legislative elections.
“Our mandate is to witness the elections and to be able to report on the extent of it being free, fair and credible,” said Jega. “We have a range of experienced personalities from all over the West African sub-region as observers in this team…It’s a very well composed team of experts, of people who have been concerned with issues of democratization and elections.” He adds that his team will also ensure that the polls will be well organized “in accordance with established international standards.”