INEC set for early voter registration – Jega

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By JOSEPH ERUNKE

ABUJA — CHAIRMAN of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, said, Wednesday, that continuous voter registration would begin early next year, preparatory to the 2015 general elections.

He said such exercise was intended to avail those who were not yet up to 18 years during the last registration the opportunity to participate in the current electoral processes.

Jega, who spoke at the opening of Election Observation Lessons Learnt Conference in Abuja, assured that there would be no repeat of any of the challenges INEC faced during the 2011 elections.

He said one of the steps INEC had taken to avoid the challenges was the introduction of permanent voter cards, along with card readers, which, he explained, would make double registration impossible.

‘We need ad hoc staff’

Jega disclosed that he would not stop engaging ad hoc staff in most INEC’s assignments as the staff at its disposal was not enough to carry out all the assignments, noting that it was same all over the world.

He said: “The use of ad hoc staff cannot be totally erased because INEC staff alone cannot be used to conduct elections. Most countries have volunteers.”

Noting that the conference did not come at a wrong time, Jega explained that his organisation “sees election observation missions as necessary for ensuring compliance with laws and global best practices, for increasing the transparency of the conduct of elections and for building public confidence in the electoral process.

“When observers issue positive reports, it builds trust in the democratic process and enhances the legitimacy of the governments that emerge from elections.

On election observers

“On the other hand, if they issue negative reports, it would undermine the legitimacy of an elected government and pose questions on the credibility of the electoral process.”

He said since the 2011 elections, his commission had accredited over 400 domestic and international observation missions, a development he said was to “underscore the importance INEC attaches to the value of citizens-led election observation.”

He charged the organisers to use the conference not only to share experiences and enhance communication, but also assist the commissions and  various observer mission groups develop a partnership for action to strengthen advocacy for reform of the election legal framework.

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