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Nigerians Prepare To Vote In Delayed Poll

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Douglas Mpuga

The Nigerian independent electoral commission [Independent National Electoral Commission] is making frantic efforts in preparation for Monday’s parliamentary elections after the absence of voter materials in large parts of the country forced a postponement on Saturday.

The elections were postponement hours after voting began in some areas.

Voters had gone early to polling stations across the country of 150 million, eager for a ballot less tainted by fraud and violence than 2007 elections that lacked credibility in the eyes of Nigerians and international observers.

“The commission is meeting and consulting with all stakeholders and will be making a statement shortly on that (election),” Kayode Idowu, the press secretary to INEC chairman, told VOA Sunday.

“The (ballot) papers that were a source of yesterday’s postponement are in place now. They are being deployed (sic) as we speak” he said.

Idowu said even election materials for the subsequent elections – presidential and later governorship – are in place.
Nigerian Presidential elections are due next Saturday and governorship votes in the 36 states a week later.

Idowu dismissed concerns that voters might not turn out for Monday’s election after Saturday’s disappointment.  “The commission is overwhelmed by the goodwill of Nigerians in this process. They have shown great determination and willingness to make their views known through the electoral process,” he said.

He added that the commission is counting on that enthusiasm to be sustained.

Idowu described the 48 –hour postponement as purely a logistical problem. “The commission expected a particular consignment to come in on a particular day but for one reason or the other that consignment was delayed.”

He, however, admitted that Nigeria was a vast country and it can take a whole day to move voting materials from the capital to some remote areas.

Idowu said procedures have been put in place to make sure election results are announced promptly. “The commission projects that within 48 hours we should be able to announce the results from all over the country.”

Although the parliamentary elections are not as significant as the presidential and governorship, to be held later in this month, Nigerian lawmakers are among the most highly paid in the world.

Goodluck Jonathan's ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) currently holds more than three-quarters of the 360 seats in the House of Representatives and of the 109 in the Senate. Most observers believe these majorities will be reduced.

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