Nigeria’s Electoral Commission postpones 2015 general elections

Feb 8, 2015

Toyin Gabriel (toyin.gabriel@undp.org)
Lucky Musonda (lucky.musonda@undp.org)

Abuja, Nigeria

Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has rescheduled the general elections slated to start from February 14th 2015. Announcing the decision, INEC Chairman Professor Attahiru Jega informed the country that the Presidential and National Assembly elections will  hold on March 28th, 2015, while Governorship and State Assembly elections are scheduled for April 11th.

Professor Jega said the rescheduling of the election dates is informed by a number of factors prominent among them is the ongoing security challenges in some Northern States. He said the electoral commission had had been advised by the National Security Advisor (NSA) that security could not be guaranteed during the proposed period in February for the general elections.

This advisory according to Professor Jega, was reinforced at the Council of State meeting on Thursday 5th February, where the NSA and all the Armed Services and Intelligence Chiefs unanimously reiterated that the safety and security of INEC’s operations cannot be guaranteed.

In this regard Professor Jega said, “INEC not being a security agency that could by itself guarantee protection for personnel and voting materials, as well as voters during elections, the Commission could not lightly wave-off the advice by the nation’s security chiefs.”

The INEC Chairman said the Commission is specifically concerned about the security of its ad hoc staff who constitute about 600 000 young men and women, together with INEC’s regular staff, voters, and election observers. “The risk of deploying young men and women and calling people to exercise their democratic rights in a situation where their security cannot be guaranteed is a most onerous responsibility,” Professor Jega said.

He said INEC on their part are ready to organize the elections but “conducting elections in a country like Nigeria is invariably a collective venture that involves not just INEC but also a diverse range of stakeholders notably security forces, political parties and their candidates, voters as well as interest groups such as the civil society organizations and the media.”

The INEC Chairman said under the circumstances, especially where it has categorically been made clear that the security of personnel, voters, election observers and materials could not be guaranteed, the commission had no choice but to reschedule the dates “because doing the contrary, would jeopardize the prospects of free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.”

While hoping that the security forces would use the rescheduling of the election dates to do their best to ensure that the security environment needed for safe and peaceful conduct of the 2015 elections is rapidly put in place, Professor Jega made it clear that INEC would under no circumstances approve an arrangement that is not in line with the provisions of the constitution. “We call on the security agencies to honour their commitment to restore sufficient normalcy for elections to take place within the period of extension,” he said.  

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