5th February, 2015
The Council of State has concluded its meeting in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital and it agreed that the general elections slated for February 14 and 28 will hold as scheduled.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega assured the National Council of State that the Commission is ready for presidential election scheduled for February 14.
President Goodluck Jonathan held talks Thursday on postponing next week’s presidential election over mounting attacks by the radical Boko Haram group, but the election commission insisted on maintaining the date, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo said.
Jonathan held seven hours of talks with security officials, state governors, the election commission and former heads of state on whether to proceed with the vote in the face of growing bloodshed in the northeast, Okorocha told journalists.
Among those attending the meeting of the Council of State was Jonathan’s main challenger in the election, General Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler, who led Nigeria between 1983 and 1985.
Okorocha said the security agencies had expressed concerns about “security challenges” during the elections.
But the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) insisted it was “very ready to conduct these elections”, he said.
The council resolved that “INEC should then inform the nation as to their preparedness and proceed to conduct the elections,” Okorocha added.
The prospect of an election delay was first raised last month by National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki, who said that INEC should look at delaying the polls because of problems in distributing voter cards.
In recent weeks Boko Haram has stepped up its bloody six-year insurgency in northeast Nigeria, leading to growing calls for a postponement of the synchronised presidential and national assembly polls.
Buhari’s opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) is, however, opposed to any delay.
Election officials have conceded that the election will be impossible in many areas controlled by the jihadists.
The INEC also has no plan to allow hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the Islamists vote outside their home district.
Some 69 million people, out of a total population of 177 million, are registered to cast a ballot but the distribution of voter cards has been plagued by logistical problems in several areas.
Several state governors have declared public holidays this week, to give people a chance to ensure they are on the electoral register.