By Demola Akinyemi
Ilorin – Listing routine of preparations, and improvements from the last election, Chairman,Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC),Professor Attahiru Jega Wednesday in Ilorin expressed conviction of conducting better election in 2015.
“We are convinced that the prospects of having remarkably much better elections in 2015 are very bright”he says.
Professor Jega said this in a lecture titled,”Challenges of Fraud free Elections under a democratic dispensation”, he delivered at a Book launch on Fraud Election by Mustapha Akanbi Foundation(MAF),Ilorin
INEC chairman however noted that,”there are some key challenges confronting efforts to conduct fraud-free elections in an environment like ours”,which he also noted are surmountable.
His words,”These challenges are not insurmountable and we will spare no effort to ensure that the aspirations of Nigerians for free,fair,credible and peaceful elections are actualized in 2015″
“As far as INEC is concerned,the 2015 general elections will see Nigeria take its rightful place in the global comity of nations where electoral democracy is being consolidate”he stressed.
INEC chairman listed challenges facing the commission ahead of 2015 elections to include:
•Funding: Processes that will guarantee fraud free elections cost money,which is hard to come by.
•Attitude of political class
•Apathetic and inactive citizenry.
•Delay in amendment to the legal Framework.
•Completion of the review of electoral constituencies and Prosecution of election offenders.
On the preparations,Professor Jega said,”a comprehensive reorganisation and restructuring of the commission has been completed,drawing from the recommendations of a highly rated management consulting firm”.
He also said that,”the consolidation and de-duplication of the biometric register of voters has been completed,as a result of which the register of voters now has tremendous integrity,much better than the one used in conducting the 2011 elections. Indeed,it compares favorably with any register of voters on the African continent”
INEC chairman added that,”Plans have been finalised to roll out a Program of Continuous Voters Registration(CVR) nationwide”,saying that the CVR offers fresh opportunity to get more citizens onto the electronic register ahead of 2015 general elections,as the commission has stopped using addendum register for elections.
“We are commencing the CVR in Ekiti and Osun states,and we hope that citizens in those states will make good use of the opportunity”he added.
He also said that the commission has issued,”the chip-based permanent voters cards(PVC)in Ekiti and Osun states and that it has concluded plans to do same nationwide.
“These cards will be swiped with card readers in the 2015 elections to ensure 100% verification and authentication of voters”
Professor Jega also disclosed that.”The commission now has a communication Policy/Strategy,designed to improve its internal and external communication processed”
“A program for the review of electoral constituencies and creation of additional polling units is ongoing.We are unlikely to conclude the constituency elimination exercise before 2015,but we will surely create additional PUs”
“The training and retraining of staff on an ongoing basis,especially through several BRIDGE training workshops is underway,with support from many development partners” he added.
He also said that,”All guidelines and Regulations on thhe electoral processes are being revised,and discussion has commenced with legal experts across the country on how to enact and gazette them”
He also hinted that an Election Risk Management Tool will be deployed ahead of 2015 elections with the support of the African Union(AU) and International IDEA,to enable the commission gather information about risk factors associated with the election,be able to analyze them and deploy effective measures to contain or mitigate them,towards ensuring peaceful and violence-free election”
The INEC chairman however said that INEC alone could not achieve this feat and therefore enjoined stakeholders to change attitudes,and mind-sets,as well as strengthen partnerships and collaborative efforts to bring this about.