14 December 2010

Nigeria: Don't Expect Perfect Elections - Jega

Abuja — The expectation of Nigerians that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deliver credible elections, may not materialise, as chairman of the commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, has expressed uncertainty of delivering flawless elections.

He sounded the warning at a dialogue with professional bodies in Abuja yesterday.

"People are expecting a perfect election, it will not happen," Jega warned, while delivering his keynote remark at a National dialogue, "Towards an Inclusive and Participatory 2011 Elections in Nigeria," organised by the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, PLAC, with support of the John D. and Catherine T. Macarthur Foundation.

Jega assured that INEC, with the mounting challenges, was doing its bid to bring out the best of the process.

"As I have said repeatedly, although the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in 2011 is the principal responsibility of INEC, it is not its exclusive responsibility. I believe that it is a task for all Nigerians. Consequently, beyond our own preparations, there is a need to mobilise public involvement and participation that will ensure that those who are to be registered actually come out to do so within the scheduled time.

"Our preparations are aimed at ensuring that there are no serious hitches, and that our people, whose confidence in the electoral process was shaken by the errors of the past, now see that there is political will, honesty of purpose and total commitment on the part of INEC to deliver free, fair and credible elections based on a reliable register of voters. I wish to assure all of you here, and indeed all Nigerians that significantly improve on all past efforts is serious and irrevocable," Jega said.

Reacting to recently stolen Direct Data Capture Machines, DDCMs, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Jega described the country's airports as porous, and on the motive of the theft, he said for now, he could not tell if it was a calculated attempt by organised criminals working at the behest of politicians.

"I know in the past several days, there were challenges which were reported in the newspapers about the theft of 20 machines out of over 6,000 units of the consignment that arrived. Luckily, security agencies have apprehended these thieves and they are being prosecuted."

Jega stated that the target date for taking delivery of equipment for the commencement of the voter registration process remains on course.

"As I speak now, at least three other consignments have arrived and we have over 15, 000 machines which have arrived the country. We believe that the schedule of delivery is on course, and what will remain are the other aspects of deployment of the machines into the field," he said.

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