Nigerian parties, electoral body want polls to shift to April

Nigeria`s political parties and electoral umpire have agreed that elections in the country earlier scheduled for January next year be put off till April to ensure adequate preparation.

Updated: Sep 22, 2010, 11:25 AM IST

Abuja: Nigeria`s political parties and
electoral umpire have agreed that elections in the country
earlier scheduled for January next year be put off till April
to ensure adequate preparation.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
had earlier requested for time extension arguing that the
January date was not feasible for the conduct of elections due
to inadequate preparation on its part.

Officials of the political parties and the chairman of
INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega met today and agreed that polls
be now held in April.

"If we have sufficient time up to April to do a good
job, the result is that there would be no need to go to court.
We shall do a Grade A job," Jega, a former university vice
chancellor, appointed recently by President Goodluck Jonathan
to head the electoral body, said.

He said there are no hidden agenda on the request for
more time.

"I cannot afford to trivalise on this issue. I want to
put to rest any issue of hidden agenda. There can never be a
hidden agenda. Our work will vindicate us in this commission,"
he said.

However, for the April date to be accepted, the INEC
may need to approach the parliament for amendment of some
portions of a recently drafted electoral law.

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

INEC had slated presidential election for January 22,
parliamentary elections for January 15 while the governorship
comes up on January 29.

Primaries for contesting parties were planned for
September 11 and October 30, with voter registration between
November 1 and 14.

President Jonathan declared his intention to contest
in the elections over the weekend after many months of
suspense.

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

Other candidates are the governor of northern Kwara
state, Bukola Saraki and former anti-corruption body, Economic
and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) boss, Nuhu Ribadu.

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