* Editor's Note: This meeting was canceled Monday, March 28, 2011.
An official of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the chairman of the electoral body is scheduled to address the country’s governor’s forum Monday, ahead of April’s presidential, parliamentary and state governorship elections.
Nick Dazan, INEC assistant director of public affairs, says the electoral chief will focus his address on preparations his organization is making to ensure a credible general election that will meet international standards.
“The INEC chairman is supposed to address the governor’s forum today at the State Banquet Hall about the preparations that the commission is making to conduct the elections from Saturday 2nd April, 2011. He has done something like that before; he has also addressed other stakeholders like the Nigeria Bar Association, the security agencies and the political parties,” said Dazan.
“Last week, these groups were briefed about how the elections were going to be held and the commitment of the commission to conduct elections that are free, fair, and credible, and acceptable to the international community,” he added.
Dazan says the governors have an important role to play in the upcoming general elections.
“The significance of the forum is that the governors control the 36 states plus the Federal Capitol Territory and they are a very significant stakeholder in the process and they are also going to contest for the elections, and it is only important that they are galvanized and made aware of the rules that will inform and undergird the elections,” said Dazan.
“As you are aware, certain changes have been brought to bear on the elections with the view to making sure that the elections fair, they are credible and they are more acceptable to Nigerians, and that transparency also is being brought into these elections,” he added.
Dazan says the electoral commission will, in his words, not aid or shelter any of its members caught manipulating election results to help any of the competing parties win the April vote.
“The commission has told them [electoral officials] that it is no longer business as usual and that everything must be done transparently and that no results should be changed along the way and that the commission is not going to protect anyone who breaches the law during the elections,” said Dazan.
Meanwhile, analysts say the opposition could force the presidential election into a run-off despite the support incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and his ruling People’s Democratic Party [PDP] enjoy.