The Commonwealth ? an organization of 53 independent states, including many former British colonies ? is sending an election observer mission to Nigeria. However, Commonwealth observers will avoid the Niger Delta because of possible violence.

Authorities in the Delta dismissed fears of violence, saying security will be beefed up. VOA English to Africa Service reporter Chinedu Offor reports from Lagos.

?Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Don McKinnon says the observer group will be led by former Tanzanian prime minister, Justice Joseph Warioba. He says the group will be in the country at the invitation of the Nigerian government and electoral authorities. McKinnon says the mandate of the observer mission is to examine the conduct of the elections to ensure the results reflect the will of the electorate.

?But some members of the team say they will be unable to observe the elections in the Niger Delta because of renewed violence and the kidnapping of foreign nationals. They say several reports of clashes between rival political parties could affect the number of people who show up at the polling stations.

Chief James Ibori is the governor of Delta State, who has spent most of his eight years in office trying to restore calm to the Niger Delta. He says claims of violence in the area have been exaggerated.? He says that when elections approach there are always doomsayers predicting violence. But he says that usually the elections go off without any major problems. Chief Ibori does say, however, that the violence is hurting development in the Delta, such as slowing construction of an east-west highway.

Elections for state governors will be held this Saturday, April 14th. The presidential election follows a week later on April 21st.