IRI Forum Allows Discussion Ahead of Nigeria’s National Elections

Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and representatives from Nigeria’s registered political parties recently met to discuss the 2011 national elections.  The nationally-covered event, sponsored by IRI, is one in a series of meetings that will help build confidence in the election process.

Jega (left) addresses political party representatives as INEC commissioners Hajiya Amina B. Zakari (center) and  Barr. Philip Umeadi (right) listen.

INEC’s new Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, sat on a panel along with his 10 national commissioners, while the political parties were represented by their respective national chairperson, secretary and leader for women’s outreach.  During his keynote address, Jega updated the political party leaders on the prospects and challenges INEC faces in preparing for the 2011 elections.  He told party leaders that “INEC considered the conduct of free and fair elections based on a dependable and permanent voters register by law as its irreducible mission.”

The INEC chairman also urged the political parties to give greater opportunities to women to compete and emerge as candidates for elective offices and that INEC would do everything within the confines of the law to strengthen internal party democracy ahead of next year’s elections.

In the discussion following Jega’s keynote address, political party leaders spoke highly of the personal integrity of the new INEC chair and its new commissioners. Party leaders expressed to their concern over the feasibility of holding elections in January,  as well as their criticism of recent legislation to stop public funding of political parties and the potential of deregistration of parties that fail to win a minimum of one seat in national or state assembly elections.  Jega and the INEC commissioners addressed these concerns, and ended the meeting with an overall consensus for the political parties and INEC to ensure the success of the upcoming elections.

Two days following the meeting, President Goodluck Jonathan signed the 2010 Electoral Act into law.  President Jonathan also signed the 87.7 billion naira (approximately $578 million) Supplementary Appropriation Bill for INEC. 

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