The General Secretary of the Alliance for Credible Elections, a non-partisan pressure group, said his organization is ready to embark on a nationwide voter education exercise ahead of Nigeria’s scheduled 22nd January presidential vote.
Emma Ezeazu said some Nigerians have expressed concerns that time is too short for the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to organize a credible vote.
“There has been anxiety whether there is enough time to do voter registration and then go to elections by January, but that is now by the side. The timetable is out and we have to follow the timetable. And, we have to do all that we can within the possibility existing, within the framework of the timetable, that has been pushed out by INEC,” he said.
Professor Attahiru Jega, the new chairman of the electoral body, said the January presidential election will be free and fair despite the short time for preparations ahead of the vote.
A local newspaper quoted Professor Jega as threatening to prosecute officials who engage in what he calls electoral malpractice..
“We will make sure really anybody who breaches the (voter) regulation and commits misconduct will be appropriately penalized.”
Both local and International poll observers criticized the 2007 general election as failing to meet international standards saying the vote was fraught with rigging and violence.
But, Ezeazu said his organization will put pressure on the electoral commission to ensure a vote that will meet international norms.
“We are expecting that they (INEC) should be able to give us a 60 percent success in this coming election. However, they do (not do) it, that is their cup of tea. But, everyone is expecting that they will be able to give us a 60 percent success. As a citizen organization, we will do all in our (power) to ensure that that aim (credible vote) is realized,” Ezeazu said.
The electoral commission announced Tuesday that the national assembly elections will be held on 15th January and scheduled the presidential vote for 22nd January. The elections for state governorship, as well as the state assemblies, will be held on 29th January.
Ezeazu said his organization will closely scrutinize activities of the electoral body ahead of the various elections.
“We will monitor the voter registration exercise throughout the duration. We think that the voter registration exercise is critical to the success of the 2011 elections. We will do voter education because we think that there is apathy in the land and that there is need to recapture the faith of the people in the electoral process,” Ezeazu said.