Nigeria to start voter registration in January

Nigeria`s election commission has stepped up preparation for the presidential polls slated to take place next year in April as the it will start registering voters by January.

Last Updated: Nov 02, 2010, 21:48 PM IST

Abuja: Nigeria`s election commission has
stepped up preparation for the presidential polls slated to
take place next year in April as the it will start registering
voters by January.

"The registration of voters will now be some time in
January. As soon as the formalities are done with, that is the
amendment of the constitution and the electoral act by the
National Assembly..." the chairman of Independent National
Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega told the staffers
of the electoral body, adding that the commission would then
announce a time table for conduct of polls.
The elections were scheduled for January but the INEC
requested for more time to enable it make adequate
preparations and this required a constitution amendment which
the country`s parliament agreed to on October 27.

The elections must be held between 30 and 150 days
before the swearing in of winners. It remains for the
parliaments of the 36 states that make up the federation to
endorse this proposal and analysts believe this would take two
to three weeks to achieve.

The elections must now be held between 30 and 150 days
before the swearing in of winners and it is left for two
thirds of the 36 states` parliaments to ratify the proposal
before it comes into effect.

President Goodluck Jonathan has indicated his
intention to contest for presidency under his present ruling
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but he faces some contenders
from the northern part of the country who insist on a zoning
formula allegedly adopted by the ruling party.

The formula should have zoned the presidency to a
northerner but Jonathan who was sworn in after the death of
President Umaru Musa Yar`Adua from the north says the
agreement is not sacrosanct.
Political parties in the oil rich African country and
the electoral umpire INEC agreed late September that elections
be shifted to April.

While requesting for time extension, INEC had cited
inadequate preparation on its part. This prompted a meeting
between officials of parties and the chairman of INEC,
Professor Attahiru Jega during which the April date was agreed
on.

The parties and INEC also maintained that May 29 2011
should remain the inaugural date for a new government.

Former military dictator, General Ibrahim Babangida,
former vice president Abubakar Atiku, and former national
security adviser, Aliyu Gusau have also indicated their
interests to contest for presidency.

Nigeria, Africa`s biggest democracy with a population
of 150 million returned to civil rule in 1999 after several
years of military intervention. Since then, presidential
elections which are conducted every four years have been won
by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

PTI