2015 election will be Nigeria’s best – Jega

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By HENRY UMORU, Abuja
INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega said in Paris that the 2015 general election would be the best ever conducted in the country, based on strategies now in place.

Jega, who spoke on Thursday at a luncheon in his honour by the staff of the embassy, said the Commission would spare no effort to make the general elections, not only the best in Nigeria’s political history, but also the most acceptable to the citizenry.

INEC Chairman Prof Attahiru Jega

“Between now and 2015, INEC will put many structures in place to ensure that the 2015 elections are not only the best in the history of our country but also the most accepted by our citizens.”

Jega led an INEC delegation to Paris at the invitation of Franch Government to observe the French presidential election on Sunday,as part of the efforts to reform INEC electoral system.

According to a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, by Kayode Idowu, Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman on Friday, he highlighted that among measures being put in place was the ongoing consolidation and updating of the voter register and the plan to issue a chip-based permanent voter cards to all voters.

“I assure  Nigerians that INEC will achieve seamless integration of the data of voters and institutionalise continuous voter registration before the 2015 general elections.”

Jega said INEC had set up data bases at the national level and in all the states and the Federal Capital Territory aimed at institutionalising a system of continuous voter registration.

“We are now working very hard to clean up that data and consolidate it and to ensure that both the states’ data and the national data are well integrated.

“Our hope is that before the end of this year, we will have the technology sorted out so that people can register continuously.

“And it will not just be fresh registration; but people who have changed their addresses can apply, following a stipulated procedure wherever they are, to have their registration status updated.”

He said if INEC could achieve that there would be no need to continue to do a major registration before an election.

Commenting on Diaspora voting, Jega noted that it was a possibility, but there was need for adequate technology to be put in place.

He added that for that to be possible there must be a consensus of opinion about what methodology to use if INEC was to provide the opportunity for Diaspora voting.

“It is possible and we are not opposed to it as a Commission because whatever opportunity we can make available, so long as it can be done transparently and without any likely negative consequences.

“Luckily, 2015 is three years or so down the line, we will do our best as a Commission, we have not yet discussed the matter and decide how to go about it, but I’m sure we will have to confront it soon.”

Ahead of the Sunday presidential election, the INEC delegation was expected to meet with the Head of France’s Elections Committee and Political Studies, BEEP, for a briefing on the French electoral system.

On Election Day, the Jega-led delegation would be in Melun district outside Paris to observe the polling while the team would also meet with the Principal Private Secretary to the Prefect, Mr Bruno Pireyre, presiding Judge of the County Court and also Chairman of the Electoral Commission of the Department.

Jega would also hold bilateral talks on Monday with leaders of the French Ministry of Interior, which is responsible for conducting the country’s elections, before departing France to Nigeria.

Other members of the INEC delegation are Dr. Nuhu Yakubu, Mrs Thelma Iremiren , Dame Gladys Nwafor , Prof. Mohammed Kuna, Kayode Idowu and Mrs Blessing Obidiegwu.

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