*Presidential polls shifted to April 16; Governorship, April 26

BY JIDE AJANI, CLIFFORD NDUJIHE & DAPO AKINREFON

ABUJA – INDEPENDENT National Electoral Commission, INEC, led by Professor Attahiru Jega, has rescheduled the voting dates for the 2011 general elections.

Jega who made the announcement, yesterday, at the INEC headquarters after a meeting with chairmen of all the 63 political parties in the country, rescheduled the election dates as follows:

Senate and House of Reps Elections: Saturday, April 9

Presidential Elections:                         Saturday, April 16

House of Assembly/Governorship Elections:   Tuesday, April 26

The three elections were earlier scheduled to hold as follows: National Assembly Elections, Saturday, April 2; Presidential Elections, Saturday, April 9; and House of Assembly/Governorship Elections, Saturday, April 16.

Addressing journalists after the meeting with the political party chairmen, Jega said: “Yesterday, the Independent National Electoral Commission announced the rescheduling of the 2011 National Assembly, Senate and the House of Representatives elections from April 2, to April 4, 2011, due to late arrival of sensitive election materials.

“Since that announcement, several representations have been made to the Commission, urging it to consult more widely and to ensure that the two-day postponement is enough to address all the logistical issues that will militate against a successful conduct of the rescheduled election. We have just finished a meeting with chairmen of all the political parties in the country which is part of this wide consultations and representations which we have received.

Following these representations and the subsequent consultations we had with stake holders, the Commission has found that the overwhelming sentiment is to further reschedule the rescheduled elections.

“Requests to reschedule the National Assembly elections have come from a cross section of stake holders including political parties and civil society organizations. However, rescheduling the National Assembly elections would have implications for the other elections.

“Consequently, the Commission weighed all the options and considered the wide ranging counsel of Nigerians and decided to reschedule all the elections as follows: Saturday, April 9, Senate and House of Representatives Elections; Saturday, April 16, Presidential Elections; Tuesday, April 26, State House of Assembly and Governorship Elections”.

Jega then “thanked all Nigerians for their enthusiasm for the elections and the support to the Commission and the electoral process”, adding that “your sacrifices are not lost on the Commission and we’re even more determined now to ensure that the 2011 elections are free, fair and credible.”

Endorsement by parties

He added: “I must also say the chairmen of all political parties who are seated here today have fully endorsed these recommendations.”

Vanguard gathered that the full-scale postponement of the elections was partly engendered by deliberations at the National Security Council, NSC, meeting which was held at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, late on Saturday, April 2.

It was also learnt that most of the stake holders who made presentations to INEC explained that citizens who were fully mobilized to their various villages, towns and states may not have been able to stay away from their bases longer than last weekend and, therefore, be able to wait till today to participate in the voting.

In addition, Vanguard was told by an INEC top shot that the reason for the 10-day difference between the Presidential Elections and the Governorship and State House of Assembly Elections was because of the possible challenges that may occasion the Presidential Election.

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