THE Commission’s hierarchy, including its chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, had talked the talk to the hilt; it is time to walk the walk.
To this end, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has picked November 1, 2010 to start off the much-anticipated processes for the registration of all eligible voters in the country for the 2011 general elections.
The registration process will begin on that date with a four-day training of the commission’s staff in Abuja who would operate the thousands of automatic Direct Data Capturing Machines (DDCM) expected to be deployed nationwide for the polls.
INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner in Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuemeka Onukogu, disclosed this at the weekend in Awka, the state capital.
In a related development, the House of Representatives yesterday gave in to INEC’s demand for a wider time-frame between the general elections and the May 29, 2011 handover date by providing a 150-day leeway between the last set of elections and the expected change of batons next year.
At a public hearing yesterday on the Bill to amend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (First Amendment) Act organised by the House Special ad-hoc Committee for the review of the 1999 Constitution, Chairman of the panel and Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Usman Bayero Nafada, said the amendment would give INEC the opportunity to conduct the 2011 general elections between March and April 2011.
The amendment Bill, which scaled second reading on the floor of the House last week, in response to INEC’s request for time extension, provided for elections to be held not earlier than 90 days and not later than 30 days to the end of the subsisting tenure, as against the not earlier than 150 days and not later than 120 days stipulated in the first amended Act.
The fresh amendment was meant to alter sections 5, 10, 11 and 17 of the principal Act as amended, which deals with the timing of elections.
Reacting to the development, Jega thanked the National Assembly for the support INEC had enjoyed so far from the lawmakers, saying the commission was satisfied with the proposal in all its ramifications, as it would help it to conduct free, fair and credible elections next year and beyond.
Jega said: “We have studied the Bill carefully, and wish to say that we are satisfied with the time-frame being contemplated. It will give us the leeway to meet the immediate challenge and subsequent elections.”
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