19th August, 2010
The INEC on Wednesday in Abuja said it would ensure a level playing field for all political parties in the conduct of the 2011 general elections.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, said this at a one-day consultative meeting with leaders of political parties.
Jega said every party would be provided with equal opportunities to compete for support from the electorate at the polls.
He said there would be no big or small parties, noting that there would be no fear nor favour.
Jega urged the 62 registered political parties to ensure deepened internal party democracy, saying that it was an essential aspect of electoral democracy.
According to him “the processes of selecting your candidates must be above board democratically, including giving adequate opportunities to women by reducing all those structural conditions within parties that put them at disadvantage.”
The INEC boss called for continued partnership between INEC and the political parties for greater democratic consolidation.
“Political parties are partners in the search for democratic consolidation in Nigeria, particularly through free, fair and credible elections.”
He added that the quest for internal party democracy had remained a major concern for both the Commission and the public.
He said that the registration of voters and the conduct of free and fair elections should not be seen as an exclusive INEC concern.
“Political parties should also be profoundly interested in bringing out their supporters to get registered, since it is a precondition for voting.
“We are in the process of producing comprehensive guidelines to guide the registration exercise and I hope that you will all fully support the registration exercise, including observing its conduct and sharing your experiences with us.”
He said INEC intended to establish a Situation Report Room (SRR) for the exercise, to enable stakeholders inform the Commission about problems as they arise and “we will intervene rapidly to solve them.â€™â€™
He cautioned political parties to abide by legal requirements about party financing, particularly expenses on elections, saying the issue was causing some concerns to the Commission.
“We would be sad to see a situation in which we have to compel you to obey those legal requirements, but if we have to do so, we will do so,â€™â€™ Jega said.