After over eight hours deliberations between the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and leaders of political parties in Abuja yesterday, a consensus was reached to shift the conduct of the 2011 general elections from January to April.
The INEC had, based on the amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act, released a timetable for the general elections scheduled to start January 15, 2011 with the National Assembly election and to be followed by Presidential election on January 29. The commission then approached the National Assembly to request for a special budget of N78 billion to enable it conduct fresh voter registration after it complained that the current voter register could not guarantee credible elections.
When INEC met with the political parties last month, 80 per cent of the 63 registered parties asked the commission to shift the dates of the general elections to enable it prepare adequately for the polls. The Commission however, after its retreat last weekend in Calabar, Cross River announced in a communiqué that it would seek all legal avenues to shift the dates of the election from January to April 2011, and summoned the chairmen and secretaries of the 63 parties to a meeting yesterday. At the meeting attended by leaders of the 63 parties, including the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Action Congress of Nigeria, (ACN), the parties agreed the dates for the election be shifted from January to April next year.
Jega, after the full endorsement of the political parties, told the leaders that the commission has no hidden agenda but was compelled by time constraint to seek an extension of dates for the conduct of the elections.
At the meeting, the Federal Commissioner in charge of logistics, Nuru Yakubu, took the party chairmen through a presentation on INEC’s project plan for the voter registration exercise and explained that the Commission had defaulted on all the timeline of the timetable.
The commissioner however advised the leaders of the parties to adhere strictly to the stipulated limit on campaign expenses and informed them that INEC would be requesting for the list of candidates and their campaign offices and how much they expend on campaigns.
Image via INEC