News / Africa

Nigeria Election Chief Promises ‘Much Improved’ 2015 Vote

Nigeria's electoral chief and academic Attahiru Jega attends a meeting with staff from the Independent National Electoral Commission  in Abuja, March 17, 2011. (AP Image)
Nigeria's electoral chief and academic Attahiru Jega attends a meeting with staff from the Independent National Electoral Commission in Abuja, March 17, 2011. (AP Image)
Peter Clottey
The chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed confidence that measures implemented by the electoral body will ensure next year’s general election is transparent, free, fair and credible.

Attahiru Jega also says INEC has received assurances from both the government and legislators that the commission will get the funds it needs to organize next year’s presidential, legislative and local elections. 

Both local and international election monitoring groups said Nigeria’s 2007 elections failed to meet international standards. The election monitors however said the 2011 vote was credible and better organized.

                    Working to improve performance

In an interview with VOA, Jega outlined measures the electoral body has implemented to improve next year’s vote following an internal review of the group’s performance in the 2011 general election.

Jega says INEC also invited academic and civil society groups to independently assess its performance in the 2011 vote, and offer recommendations in areas that needed improvement.                                              

“After we did all that we produced a strategic plan covering the period 2012 to 2016 so that for the elections and beyond, we have a clearly charted program of what needed to be done to improve election management in Nigeria, both towards 2015 and beyond,” said Jega. “Our vision is to be one of the best election management bodies in Africa by 2015.”

He says INEC has been restructured to be efficient and effective.

“We have done what I call putting square pegs in square holes in terms of human resources in terms of removing duplication of responsibilities and so on,” said Jega. “We have produced a permanent voters card and we are going to distribute them and come 2015 we are going to use card readers to be able to authenticate whether the person who brings a card to the polling unit is the actual owner of that card.”

Jega called on other stakeholders including civil society groups and political parties to be partners in ensuring the credibility of the vote.

“It is much about what politicians do -- it is much about what civil society organizations do. So our hope is that while we concentrate on doing our best, we are hopeful and we keep on engaging stake holders so that all hands will be on deck in order to ensure that 2015 is indeed truly much better than 2011,” said Jega. 

                    Funding issues

Observers say adequate funding is critical to resolving the logistical challenges INEC faces.  Jega says he has been assured by the country’s leaders that his organization will receive the budgetary allocation needed to administer the vote.

“We prepared our budget which we have submitted and we have concerns as to whether what we actually need will be provided -- both members of the national assembly and the government raised these concerns. I must say we have received assurances that everything would be done to ensure that lack of resources do not undermine the 2015 elections. And I think those reassurances are good enough for us,” said Jega.

                    Security challenges

Nigeria is facing severe security challenges in some parts of the country where the Islamist militant group Boko Haram has carried out attacks.

Some Nigerians worry that the election could be affected by violence. They contend that the militants could target voting centers and scare prospective voters from participating in the election.

But, Jega says the electoral commission is working closely with the country’s security agencies to address any security concerns in the run up to the vote.

“We partner with security agencies to anticipate security challenges and to have a coordinated response approach to addressing those security challenges,” said Jega. “Since 2010 we established an Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Elections Security, and it has offered us a platform through which we engage with all security agencies to discuss security challenges associated with elections.”

                    Code of conduct

Observers have expressed concern about politicians using intemperate language during campaigns ahead of elections, which they say heightens ethnic and religious tension and creates conflicts and violence. 

Jega says INEC will enforce a code of conduct that the political parties would have to abide by in the run up to the election.

“I’m glad to say that all the registered political parties as of March last year had signed to a code of conduct that promotes civility and peaceful conduct,” said Jega. “We are hopeful that political parties and candidates will abide by that code of conduct and we are urging all citizens and all civil society organizations to hold parties and candidates to account with regards to the commitment that they have made.”
Clottey interview with Prof. Attahiru Jega, Nigeria's Electoral Chief
Clottey interview with Prof. Attahiru Jega, Nigeria's Electoral Chiefi
|| 0:00:00

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs