6th April, 2011
Nigeria’s electoral body said Wednesday it was confident preparations were being put in place for parliamentary polls this weekend after having earlier postponed them twice amid chaotic organisation.
The electoral commission has raised the possibility that a third postponement could occur in a few areas of the country, but spokesman Kayode Idowu said no decision has been taken yet.
“It looks good for elections to hold across the country on Saturday,” Idowu told AFP. The commission has previously said an announcement would be made on Thursday.
Parliamentary polls, originally scheduled for last Saturday, were later moved to Monday before finally being deferred until April 9. Materials and personnel failed to arrive at a large number of polling stations for the vote on Saturday.
Presidential elections were also shifted by a week to April 16 while state governorship and assembly polls are due on April 26.
Vote observers have regretted the circumstances that led to the postponements, but several said the electoral commission made the right choice in pulling the plug since the ballot could never have been considered credible.
This month’s landmark elections are being seen as a critical test of whether this nation of 154 million people, Africa’s most populous, can break with a history of flawed and violent polls.
“Clearly the commission is working very hard to make sure the problems that were encountered in past elections are not likely to occur again here,” former Canadian prime minister Joe Clark, heading a team of international observers, told AFP.
“In saying that, everyone knows this is a complex country and everyone expects some things to go wrong, but there remains, to our judgement, a strong general confidence, in both the will and the capacity of the electoral commission, to have free and fair elections,” he said.
He is leading observers from the Washington-based National Democratic Institute (NDI).
President Goodluck Jonathan, the favourite in the April 16 poll, threw his weight behind the electoral agency’s decision to delay the vote.
“What happened is another demonstration that the country and the electoral body are committed to conducting credible elections. It is a sacrifice all of us are paying…,” said Jonathan on Tuesday.