BY OKEY NDIRIBE
ABUJA—AS the 2015 general elections draw nearer, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has advised intending observers of the poll to make their own security arrangements.
This advice was given, yesterday, in Abuja by the Chairman of INEC Prof Attahiru Jega, in his remarks at a one- day workshop organised by the commission, entitled “Election Observation Outside Nigeria; Lessons Learnt.”
Jega further stated that all over the world, apart from Venezuela, election observers were always responsible for their own security, adding that this would also apply to Nigeria since INEC would be saddled with the engagement of security agencies for the overall conduct of the polls.
Said he: “What we do in Nigeria is to liaise with the security agencies to provide security for the overall conduct of the elections.
Observers to provide own security
“Observers can make their own security arrangements. We even have some countries like India that do not allow anybody to observe their elections.
“However, we accept that the presence of foreign observers adds credibility to the outcome of the elections.”
Commenting on other arrangements being put in place by INEC for the elections, Jega disclosed that both the management and staff of the commission had visited about 16 countries for peer review and discovered the importance of planning ahead, which he described as very tasking to most countries.
He further revealed that the application of Information and Communication Technology had helped in most countries, especially in the developed ones, adding that politicians in matured democracies nevr took elections as a do-or-die affair, unlike what was obtainable in many African countries.
“Technology has helped to remove some logistics problems which INEC has learnt from, but I must add that the use of technology in Nigeria would be difficult in the collation of results so as to avoid what happened in Kenya where a lot of crisis ensued because of that situation.
“In matured democracies, even where ordinary A4 paper is used as ballot paper nothing happens,” Jega said.
Earlier in his welcome address, INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of Election Monitoring and Observation, Dr Ismail Igbani, said the biggest challenge facing the commission now was how to conduct a free, fair and credible election in 2015.
He said it was very obvious that it would not be an easy exercise.
He said: “All that is left is for all the operatives that will play one role or the other in the conduct of the elections to endeavour to be above board in the discharge of their responsibilities.”
Igbani further pointed out that it was paramount that INEC continued to keep abreast of universally accepted good practices that are being introduced in many parts of the world, insisting that the commission could not afford to lag behind in keeping up with global trends.