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Fri, 19 Sep 2014

Jega: Insurgency Can't Stop Elections in North-east


In what appeared to be a change of mind, the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commisssion (INEC), Prof. Atahiru Jega, yesterday dismissed insinuations that elections might not hold in tthe roubled North-eastern part of the country, arguing that if elections could hold in more volatile countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan, the case of Nigeria and the North-east in particular could not be different.

 
Jega had told a National Assembly committee last year that possibility of conducting elections in states under emergency rule was zero, arguing that it would be outrightly difficult if not impossible to conduct elections in states prone to insecurity.
 
But while appearing before the Senate Committee on INEC, Jega said despite the precarious security situation in the area, elections could still hold in the three states of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno, moreso that security forces were on top of the situation.
 
He insisted that since elections were held in some war torn places “including countries which are having problems like ours in terms of security, take Afgahnistan, take Iraq and so on, for instance, we hope and pray that states where emergency is, will stabilise sufficiently for us to be able to conduct elections that are relatively peaceful in those areas and we must plan for the eventuality."
 
The INEC boss also said preparations were ongoing regarding the planned conduct of Adamawa State's bye-election on October 11, saying given the briefing he had received so far from the state's resident electoral commissioner, life is gradually returning to normalcy in most parts of the state.
 
"Yesterday, the Adamawa State resident electoral commissioner  was here and he gave us adequate briefing. From what we heard, people are moving back home. In Madagali for example, as of yesterday, buses were being provided to move people back home from the camps," Jega disclosed.
 
Jega also said he had done nothing mysterious by the decision to create additional 30,000 polling units across the country, saying the move was a product of necessity.
According to him, the commission was duty bound to conduct elections in all parts of Nigeria despite cases of displacement, noting that temporary displacement should not by any means amount to disenfranchisement of the people affected.
 
“We are having displacement of people with people leaving where they live to live in camps. It is a serious challenge; nobody can underestimate it but the hope of everybody in this country is that this is a temporary problem and you cannot begin to plan on long term based on a temporary thing.
 
“If we now say okay because people are leaving the North-east therefore the polling units you create in the North-east should take care of people who have moved out, are we saying that these people are not likely to come back before 2015 or whenever we conduct the elections?”
 
Supporting Jega, a member of the committee, Senator Alkali Jajere (Yobe South), said “no Jupiter on earth” could stop elections from holding in his state, alleging that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was only using the media to fly a kite by speculating that elections might not hold in states under emergency rule.
 
Also speaking, Senator Magnus Abe (Rivers South-east), said until Nigerians began to put the nation’s interest above individual or sectional interests, the nation would not make progress adding that anyone who has a convincing evidence on the distribution of new polling units should produce the evidence instead of resorting to mere blackmail.



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Disclaimer: Content is the Opinion of the Author and is not in anyway representative of the Opinions of the Nigerian Election Coalition, WANGONeT, or the MacArthur Foundation except otherwise stated.

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