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- SULE YAKUBU
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Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will soon release the timetable and sequence of the 2015 General Elections.
The INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, disclosed this on Thursday when the European Union (EU) Managing Director for Africa, Nicholas Wescott visited the Commission.
Professor Jega told Mr. Wescott that like the Anambra governorship election which held on 16th November 2013, the Commission would not use the Manual and Addendum Registers in the Ekiti, Osun governorship and 2015 General Elections. Instead, the Commission would use the Electronic Register.
The INEC Chairman explained that eventhouth the Electronic Register was not perfect, the Commission had made several efforts to make it credible.
He disclosed that a regiment of Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) would precede the two governorship elections and the 2015 General Elections.
Professor Jega further explained that the Commission would only use the Electronic Register to conduct elections henceforth because of the significant improvements visited on it and a court ruling that the Commission could only use one register to conduct elections.
The INEC Chairman urged Nigerians who had not registered or whose names were not in the Electronic Register to use the opportunity of the impending CVR exercise to have their particulars/biometrics (pictures, fingerprints and addresses) to be captured in the Electronic Register.
He told Mr Wescott that the Commission would next month launch a facility to enable registrants to querry the Commission’s database to find out if their names were in the Electronic Register.
Professor Jega also explained that ahead of the 2015 General Elections, the Commission would create additional Polling Units (PUs) such that they would be decongested and no PU would have more than 500 voters as opposed to the subsisting situation where some PUs had up to 3000 registered voters.
The INEC Chairman who said it was not desirable or ideal for the Commission to hold elections where there were security challenges expressed optimism that the security challenges being faced, especially in the country’s North East, would be addressed and overcome before the 2015 General Elections.
On the legal framework that would inform the 2015 General Elections, Professor Jega said the Commission had engaged the National Assembly and expressed the hope that the amendments it (the Commission) was seeking to the legal framework would be effected in time and in concert with African Union (AU) and ECOWAS Protocols signed by the country.
He observed that for the Com-mission to do an excellent and clean election, its funding needs had to be met. Professor Jega expressed regret that elections were costly and that in a situation where institutions were not trusted, everyone who presented a bill was a suspect.
Professor Jega said that “based on the lessons the Commission had learnt and which it had factored into the planning of the 2015 General Elections, we are confident that we will raise the bar.”
Earlier, Mr Wescott had expressed the desire of the European Union to ensure that the 2015 General Elections were transparent and that all stakeholders in the process would accept the outcome.
“We’re keen to ensure that the elections next year will be transparent and that everyone will accept the outcome. That the votes will be counted and that the votes will count,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Commission is to hold a two-day retreat with all its Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) on the preparations it is making for the successful conduct of the 2015 General Elections.
According to the Director (Com-mission’s Secretariat), Ishiaku A. Gali, the retreat will take place at the Asaa Pyramid Hotels, Kaduna, from 23rd to 24th January 2014. Participants will arrive on 22nd and depart on 25th January 2014.