Abuja: Nigerian lawmakers have agreed to
delay the nation-wide January polls, making its postponement
to April almost certain, after the electoral commission sought
extra time to credibly finalise the voters` register of
Africa`s most populous country.
After a meeting between the Chairman of Independent
National Electoral Commission Attahiru Jega and Minister of
Justice Mohammed Adoke, a joint parliamentary committee said
they are ready to amend the constitution and electoral act
once more for the necessary move.
A week earlier, INEC sought to delay the elections to
iron out problems with voter registration. The oil-rich nation
was due to hold presidential, parliamentary and state
governorship elections in January.
"We have asked the INEC to go back and do a timeline on
how they arrived at April and what they think they will do at
this timeline that will guarantee a free and fair election,"
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu said. He also added
that further amendment to the constitution and the electoral
act could be made to accommodate the changes.
However, the committee and INEC assured that the
extension would not affect the new government`s inauguration
date -- May 29, 2011.
INEC is under pressure to deliver credible elections
after a history of electoral rigging in the country. The 2007
polls which brought former president Umaru Yar`Adua to power
were judged by flawed by the international observers.
Next year`s polls are likely to be highly contentious,
with President Goodluck Jonathan, who succeeded Yar`Adua after
his death in May, fighting against former military dictator
General Ibrahim Babangida, former Vice President Abubakar
Atiku and National Security Adviser Aliyu Gusau for the top
Other contenders are Northern Kwara state Governor Bukola
Saraki and Financial Crimes Commission chief Nuhu Ribadu.
The Peoples` Democratic Party is in power since the
country with 150 million population returned to civilian rule
in 1999 after years of military intervention.
Opposition parties have challenged the victories of PDP
but had no success as the court cited lack of evidence in
proving that the elections were rigged.