1 April 2011

Nigeria: Poll - We Must Get it Right -Jega

Abuja — As the 2011 general elections commence today, Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (NEC), Attahiru Jega on Friday restated the determination of the commission to get it right in spite on challenges.

In a nation-wide broadcast, the INEC boss cautioned Nigerians who were not registered to stay clear of the polling units noting that anybody caught involved with double registration would be arrested and prosecuted.

According to Jega, "12 years ago, our dear country Nigeria returned to democratic rule and we began a journey that many expected by now would have produced a stable democratic system in which peaceful, free, fair and credible elections are routine and taken for granted. Unfortunately, this is still not the case and Nigerians are yet to reap the dividends of democracy. The elections we are about to commence tomorrow, Saturday April 2, provide the chance for us as a nation to get it right. It is incumbent upon all of us to join hands together to conduct elections that are free, fair and credible.

"Bringing this about successfully is vitally important to the future of our nation, therefore we must not fail and we must get it right. I want to assure you all that INEC has worked tirelessly to put infrastructure, people, and procedures in place to make sure that we have prepared adequately in terms of logistics, the training of our staff and in terms of effective liaison with security agencies to provide security before, during and after the elections.

"We are very confident that the security agencies are sufficiently mobilised to ensure that there is security cover for both INEC personnel and materials and for those who will come out to exercise their right to vote. We have recruited and trained approximately 400,000 staff, thereby ensuring an average of three officials per polling unit, plus a number of supervisory officials. We are also doing our best to see that within 48 hours, the results are announced. This is the target timeline we are working on, in spite of the fact that Nigeria is a very vast country with many difficult terrains," he added.

Jega pointed out that "we have also planned to deploy Electronic Surveillance Technology to help us monitor activities in strategic areas. It is not nationwide, but I think with time, we will keep on scaling up. INEC has been very determined to make sure that we mitigate factors that would prevent Nigerian citizens from exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote. Though this is principally our duty as a Commission, it is not exclusively a task for INEC. It is a shared task. With shared democracy comes shared responsibility.

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