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Nigeria’s Electoral Commission Plans to Add Names to Voter Registry

In Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will add about 70 million new names to the voter registry for next year’s election.

INEC chairman Attahiru Jega says it’s necessary in order to ensure the credibility of the polls.

Analysts say poor voter registration caused the controversy after the last election, which put the current administration in power. Local and international observers said that vote did not meet acceptable standards.

The current INEC leadership is sensitive to the demands of Nigerians for a credible election next year, says Innocent Chukwuma, head of the CLEEN Foundation, an NGO based in Lagos.The previous head of INEC, Maurice Iwu started the process of updating the voters register.

“This is a clear vindication that we never had an electronic voters’ register under Maurice Iwu,” says Chukwuma, “because if we had had one, he (Jega) wouldn’t be talking about registering 70 million people. He would have talked about a marginal increase in the number to capture those who have come of voting age between the last registration exercise and now.”

Chukwuma thinks INEC’s action will assure the electorate and political parties of its intention to conduct a credible election.

But he says despite what he calls the positive steps taken by the commission, a great deal of work must be done to improve its reputation in the eyes of the public.

New INEC chairman Attahiru Jega, says Chikwuma, with his “illustrious pedigree,” inspires overwhelming confidence in his ability to preside over voter registration.