Possible Delay in Nigerian Elections

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Nigeria just concluded a two-day retreat with Resident Electoral Commissioners, and the statement INEC released at the conclusion of the meeting mentions a possible delay in the national elections currently scheduled for January 22:

Having examined the Commission’s detailed Action Plan for the voter registration and elections, the Retreat noted that the time line for the implementation of this Plan is very tight. Consequently, the Commission shall endeavour to engage all the relevant stakeholders with a view to exploring all legal avenues for extension of time to enable the Commission to deliver on the aspirations of Nigerians for a credible voters’ register and free, fair and credible elections. Should this happen, May 29 2011 must remain sacrosanct.

The statement has elicited a good deal of comment already.

INEC is playing a very important role in the process. Anecdotally, a number of elites in Kano told me of their tremendous respect for Professor Attahiru Jega, formerly Vice Chancellor of Bayero University Kano, who took the helm of the Commission this summer. Jega’s reputation for personal integrity has thus far extended to the Commission, and some said to me that so long as Jega remains on the Commission they will have faith that the electoral process has also stayed clean. From what I have seen, Jega is treating the government sternly, insisting at every juncture that the elections have proper time and financing. We’ll see if the date gets moved – potentially it will be, as it was only set some two weeks ago.

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