Nigeria holds its next round of general elections in 2011 in what many
see as a crucial test of the country's fledgling democracy. Without key
electoral reforms, many Nigerians fear vote rigging and intimidation
could derail the process.
run-up to the 2011 elections has reignited concerns about a free, fair
and credible vote in Africa's most populous nation. Nigerian elections
in 2007 were marred by widespread vote rigging and intimidation and
foreign and domestic observers said they were "not credible."
President Umaru Yar'Adua admitted "lapses and shortcomings" in the vote
which brought him to power and promised to fix the flawed electoral
system. But critics believe Mr. Yar'Adua has moved too slowly on
reforms and that key changes are not expected before the 2011 elections.
parties are against the president appointing the head of the electoral
commission. A 22-member electoral reform panel appointed by President
Yar'Adua had recommended that the head of the electoral body should be
appointed by the National Judicial Commission "to truly make it an
independent body." The government however, rejected the recommendation.
much-criticized electoral commission chairman Maurice Iwu blames a
desperate political class motivated largely by a desire to enjoy the
profits of office for Nigeria's electoral problems. He told a
parliamentary committee that a crackdown on electoral offenders could
be an important step in the conduct of free and fair elections in
"We need to look at creative ways of stopping such
rot," said Iwu. "It is easy to say create a commission. Does it mean
anywhere we have a failing we create a commission? We have to look at
what are the problems? What do we want to achieve? We need to punish
people who commit electoral offences."
say peaceful, free and fair elections in 2011 are essential in
stabilizing a country in danger of sliding into anarchy.
Nigerian opposition parties have vowed to resist any attempt to rig the vote, setting the stage for a hotly contested ballot.
More than 15,000 people have died in a series of violent clashes since the return to civil democracy in 1999.