Nigerian senate votes for January Presidential Elections

Nigerian senate has voted to advance general elections to January next year.

Abuja: The Nigerian senate voted to advance the general elections to January next year from the original schedule of April.

The resolution -- a part of a constitutional amendment to bring change into oil-rich nation`s electoral calendar which schedules the month of April for general elections – would need Lower House support to be implemented.

According to the senators, the general elections should be held "not earlier than 150 days and not later than 120 days before the expiration of the term of office," of either the president or a state governor.

The current constitutional rules say that elections must be held between 30 and 60 days before the new President`s term begins.

Elected candidate usually takes Presidential oath on May 29, since the return to democratic rule in 1999 after several years of military intervention in politics.

The senate also passed a controversial electoral act yesterday which stipulates the order of general elections, with the National Assembly election coming first, followed by Presidential Election and lastly governorship/state legislators` elections.

The spokesman of the senate Senator Ayogu Eze said: "The repeal and enactment of the electoral act was laudable. We removed all legal and legislative impediments on the way of free and fair election. What we did was to give the operators all the ennoblement that they need to conduct free and fair election. I hope the House of Representatives will do the same and we can go for conference to harmonise the bill."

There were allegations of ballot-stuffing and rigging the 2007 Presidential Election that brought late Umaru Musa Yar`Adua to power. Foreign observers cried foul during the poll.

However, President Goodluck Jonathan has pledged to conduct a free and fair elections in 2011.

He recently appointed a highly reputed university teacher Professor Attahiru Jega to head the country`s Independent National Electoral Commission. The Professor has suggested that best time for elections would be January 08 and 13.

Observers believe the new INEC head would have to confront a political elite within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, considered to be highly influential and hell bent on retaining power by manipulating electoral results.

The PDP has been winning the presidential elections and majority of the states since 1999.


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