Nigeria: Postponement of the 2011 General elections in Nigeria

By Chinyere Ogbonna, Nigeria –   The National Assembly election in Nigeria earlier scheduled to hold last Saturday and later aborted, has again been shifted to April sixteen, 2011.

The shift has affected the time table for the general elections in the country.

Yesterday the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC in the country announced the rescheduling of  2011 National Assembly election ( Senate and the House of Representatives) from April second to April fourth due to late arrival of some sensitive election materials such as the result sheets.

Since the announcement, the INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega has been meeting with stakeholders and representatives of various political parties in the country.

A statement by the commission, says following representations made to the commission urging it to consult more widely, to ensure that the two-day postponement is enough to address all the logistical issues that may mare the successful conduct of the rescheduled polls.

Following these representations and subsequent consultations with stakeholders, the commission found out that the overwhelming sentiment is to further reschedule the elections.

According to the statement in Abuja signed by the Secretary of the commission, Abdullahi Kaugama request to reschedule the nations general elections have come from a cross-section of stakeholders, including the political parties and the civil society organizations.

The statement however says that the rescheduling of the National Assembly polls would have implications on for the schedule of all other elections in the country.

Consequently, the statement added that the commission after weighing all the options available to it, considered the wide ranging counsel of Nigerians and decided to reschedule all elections as follows: Saturday April 9th, 2011 National Assembly elections (Senate and House of  Representatives), Saturday April 16, 2011 ,Presidential polls and Tuesday April 26th 2011, Governorship and State Assembly elections.

It thanked Nigerians for their sacrifices, enthusiasm for the elections and support form the commission and electoral process.

The statement quotes the commission as reiterating its commitment to conduct a free, fair and credible polls.

Meanwhile, mixed reactions from across the have trailed the re-scheduling of the 2011 elections dates . some Lagos residents who spoke with Correspondent Chinyere Ogbonna expressed willingness to participate in the exercise as long as it will be free and fair, while others said INEC should have carried out all necessary actions before announcing the dates. Another group in Imo state believe that Professor Jega was outsmarted by agents of some political parties who withheld form they referred to as form EC8C to perpetrate fraud. The absence of the form according to them, prompted the INEC Chairman to immediately postpone the election.

In telephone interviews with Nigerians from elsewhere in the country, their concern was for INEC to conduct a free, fair and credible polls devoid of violence and rigging.

The Police on its part have said it will improve on some security lapses experienced during the National Assembly elections on Saturday.

Addressing a news conference in Ikeja in Lagos, The Commissioner of Police in the Mr. Suleiman Abba said that the Police and other security agencies had re-strategized   on how to discharge their duties better.

Mr. Abba said thirty thousand personnel have been deployed to maintain peace in the state.

He warned that violent acts would not be tolerated anywhere in the state especially during the polls.

The Police advised residents to comply   with the restriction  on vehicular movement between eight in the  morning and four in the afternoon on election days.