The chairman of Nigeria?s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has told VOA Nigerians should expect a ?significantly improved? election next year that will be credible and meet international standards.
Attahiru Jega said his commission has been doing extensive preparations and encouraging ordinary Nigerians to fully participate in the upcoming general elections.
?First, and foremost, we decided to make the elections free, fair and credible. We need to have a fresh voter register because of the key problems which we have identified with the existing voter register. So, we?ve done a lot in terms of extensive operational and logistical preparations for the fresh voter registration exercise. And, we are confident that we will be able to have a very good voter registration exercise,? said Jega.
?I am confident to say that, given the level of preparations that we?ve done, we have a lot of expectations for a positive outcome in terms of having a qualitatively better voter register, as well as a remarkably improved process of bringing about free, fair and credible elections.?
Nigeria will hold elections for president, parliament, and state level races next April. Critics say the last polls in 2007 were marred by disorganization, intimidation and fraud.
Jega said a credible voter list will go a long way to ensure a free, fair and transparent election. He has called on Nigerians to, in his words, approach next year?s elections with responsibility and civility.
?I keep saying that we are not promising a perfect election. But, we have absolutely no doubt that we will have a remarkably improved electoral process and the results will be free, fair and credible,? he said.
He further said the electoral body will also ensure a level playing field for all participating political parties in the run up to the general elections.
Meanwhile, a Nigerian election official said equipment for the elections was stolen after it arrived at the international airport in Lagos. The INEC?s Kayode Idowu said Direct Data Capture machines, laptops and cameras were among the items taken.
However, he said the theft will not impact plans to register millions of voters next month. An investigation is underway.