By Inalegwu Shaibu
ABUJA— PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, asked the Senate to amend relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution and the 2010 Electoral Act to accommodate the new dates requested by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for the conduct of the 2011 polls.
President Jonathan in letter to the Senate read by Senator David Mark, urged the Senate to fast track the amendments noting that he was in agreement with INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, that the January date for 2011 general elections was not tenable.
The letter reads: “I am in receipt of a letter from the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on the above subject matter.
Planning and procurement
“According to the Chairman, the request is predicated on the inability of INEC to implement its detailed Action Plan with regards to planning, procurement and deployment for registration of voters and elections, within the time-lines in the context of the Electoral Act. It is noteworthy that the leadership of all the political parties endorsed the request in a recent retreat.
“While I agree with INEC on the validity of the request and the need to address the apparent difficulties, I shall propose an amendment of the relevant laws by inclusion of transitional provisions which will enable INEC conduct general elections between now and the end of April 2011.”
Meanwhile, the President has asked the Senate to expedite action on the amendment of 2010 Electoral Act to pave way for the extension of election from January to April.
He told the Senate in another letter: “I wish to refer to my letter notifying you of the letter by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, regarding its apprehension of the implementation of the Electoral Calendar.
“In this regard, I hereby propose the amendment of the relevant laws as attached through the inclusion of transitional provisions which will enable INEC conduct general elections between now and the end of April 2011. It is my hope that the distinguished senators will consider and pass the amendments in their usual expeditious manner.”
Also yesterday, President Jonathan also asked the Senate to repeal the Community Banks Act of 2004, stressing: “I hereby introduce for formal repeal by the Senate the above named bill, while I hope that the bill will receive the usual prompt attention of the distinguished members of the Senate.”