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Nigerian Analyst Urges Delay in 2011 Vote, Avoid 2007 Repeat

  • Peter Clottey

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (C), accompanied by his wife Patience (R), Vice President Namadi Sambo, waves to the crowd before their campaign declaration in Abuja on September 18, 2010.

A university professor has told VOA Nigeria is in a period of emergency after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said Sunday it needed more time to adequately prepare for the scheduled 22nd January presidential election.

Kabiru Mato, political science professor at the University of Abuja, said Nigeria’s National Assembly should provide a framework for the electoral body to organize a credible vote that will be devoid of voter irregularities and meets international standards.

“If we insist that we (have) elections in January, then I assure you that we are going to have either (a) similar or even (a) worse catastrophe that we have seen in the past.”

Professor Mato also called on Nigerian politicians and civil society groups to make, in his words, a “strategic choice to agree to an election that will be rushed in January, or to open the constitution and see any possibility of making (an) adjustment, so that INEC can do a good voter register, conduct a good voter education and also be able to evolve sufficient machinery that will be able to block all the leakages and the loopholes that have been identified as responsible for election rigging and malpractices in the past.”

Nigerians face elections in January for the National Assembly, president and governorships and state assemblies. The INEC said it needed more time to register eligible voters to complete a voter registration list that will be used for the general election. The commission scheduled 1st November to begin a two-week registration exercise ahead of the vote.

Professor Mato said the scheduled January vote would be too soon to complete a competent voter list.

“Every sensible Nigerian knows that it is not possible to produce a very credible voter register within the shortest possible time. The time really is very short (and) very inadequate. I quite agree with INEC that the time is inadequate.”

Professor Mato also said a majority of Nigerians will favor a delayed date that will enable the electoral body to organize an election that will not be a repeat of the 2007 vote.

Both local and international observers described the 2007 as fraught with voter irregularities, rigging and violence saying the vote failed to meet international standards.