The spokesman for Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the February 14 presidential and gubernatorial elections will proceed as originally planned. Some recent reports had said the vote could be postponed.
Kayode Idowu said the electoral body had updated its plans to administer elections in areas where residents often come under attack from radical Islamist militant group, Boko Haram.
“The commission is doing everything it has to do to be in a position to conduct elections on February 14 and February 28 this year,” said Idowu.
A senior security adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan is reported to have suggested that the election be postponed because of security challenges in parts of the country.
Boko Haram is blamed for carrying out attacks on unarmed civilians. The attacks have displaced thousands from their homes and away from their designated polling centers.
Some Nigerians say the security challenge could thwart INEC’s effort to administer elections in areas the militant group controls.
But Idowu said the electoral commission is implementing additional measures to ensure voters are safe and free to participate.
“Elections will take place in areas with security challenges,” said Idowu. “The commission has done a risk mapping of these states as you have areas of high-risk, medium and low-risk zones. The commission will re-create voting centers on the basis of the risk in the constituencies in safer areas of the state and require all the internally displaced persons from those high-risk zones to come to these safe areas to vote.”
He said the INEC would soon receive printed ballot papers to be used for the election.
“In a matter of days we will be taking delivery of the ballot papers,” said Idowu.
There are 28 political parties registered for the February 14 general election. Fourteen presidential candidates are in the race, including incumbent President Jonathan and main challenger General Muhammadu Buhari.
Idowu said INEC is prepared to work with stakeholders, including the political parties, to administer a credible vote.
“We seek and hope for the cooperation of all the political players. We expect that all the political players and all the political parties will conform to the vote of conduct …These are the things we need to make sure that we have a peaceful election," he said. "In addition to that, the commission will do everything within its powers to ensure that the elections are credible, free and fair.”