An official of Nigeria?s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said his organization will publish this weekend a list of all candidates that will participate in the April presidential, parliamentary and state governorship elections.
Nick Dazan, assistant director of public affairs of the INEC, also says the electoral body will officially end the ongoing voter registration process this weekend.
?On the 6th of February, which is on Sunday, the commission should come out with the official and formal list of all the candidates that will contest for all the positions available from the presidency to the houses of assembly in Nigeria,? said Dazan.
?That will finally set the stage for the elections because, for the first time now, all the candidates that will contest the various positions will be known, and these are the candidates that would have emerged from primaries that were held by the political parties," he added. "The commission has always stressed the need for the candidates to emerge through primaries so that we don?t have a situation where, at the end of the day, people are complaining.?
On January 15, the electoral body began registering prospective voters who will participate in the upcoming general elections. But, the period of the registration was extended for an additional week after the electoral commission decided it needed more time to register more prospective voters.
Both local and international election observers say the last polls in 2007 were marred by disorganization, intimidation and fraud. But, the chairman of the electoral commission, Attahiru Jega, said his commission has been doing extensive preparations and encouraging ordinary Nigerians to fully participate in the upcoming general elections.
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 this year?s elections with responsibility and civility.
Dazan said the list of candidates will ensure Nigerians have enough time to decide on the candidates to vote for in the elections.
?In previous elections, similar motions were followed but, in this particular one, the commission is being more painstaking," he said. "The idea is to foreclose a situation where, after the elections, someone will emerge and say he was shortchanged during the primaries, as happened in 2007, where, at the end of the day, tribunals sat to set aside elections that were conducted by the commission.?