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Nigeria Electoral Commission Begins Polling Station Inspections Wednesday

  • Peter Clottey

Cars pass a billboard, right, with a photo of Nigerian Political candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who will stand against Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan for the ruling party nomination at Lagos, Nigeria, 22 Nov. 2010.

The deputy director for public affairs of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) told VOA the electoral body will begin a 10-day inspection Wednesday of all the 120,000 polling stations ahead of next year’s general elections.

Nick Dazan said the commission has also signed a memorandum of understanding that will enable it to employ about 360,000 youths for the upcoming voter registration exercise and the elections.

“Because of certain political developments and sometimes because some polling stations have overwhelming number of voters, the polling stations are more than that 120,000 that we have on record officially. So, what the commission wants to do, since it is a new commission, (is) to verify these polling stations on the ground,” said Dazan.

“The 12 national commissioners are going out to the zones and, with our officers in the operations department, they will now authenticate these polling stations, and that exercise will take about two weeks.”

Nigerian lawmakers recently approved a constitutional amendment that allowed the country’s poll to be postponed until April next year. Elections were previously scheduled for January. The electoral commission had asked for more time to correct the voter lists.

“The commission signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Youth Service Corps and the commission wants to use about 360,000 members of the service corps to conduct the voter registration exercise and the 2011 general elections,” said Dazan.

“From experience, the commission has found out that the members are more reliable in terms of integrity, and they can easily be trained by virtue of the education they have acquired. Also, they are not as partisan as the ad hoc staff that the commission had used in the past. So, they are less likely to be used by desperate politicians than other ad hoc staff that we had used before.”

INEC recently said it expects to begin registering voters in January for presidential, parliamentary and state governorship elections.

Dazan said the commission wants to verify and authenticate the various polling stations to ensure a transparent and credible election.