2015 elections must hold as scheduled, Tambuwal, Jega insist

TambuwalBy Ikechukwu Okaforadi

The current insecurity in some parts of the country, not withstanding, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has insisted that next year’s general election should hold as scheduled nationwide.

Also, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega believed that elections will hold in all states of the federation including states under emergency rule.

Tambuwal made his position known Thursday when he received the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Austine Alegeh(SAN) and his entourage at the National Assembly.

While making reference to some comments that suggested a possible postponement of the 2015 elections because of the insecurity in the country, Tambuwal said: “We are about to go into elections and some people are already saying that there may be no elections. But I firmly believe that we are going to have elections. The 2015 elections should be held.

“I firmly believe we can go into election. The problem now is that governance is suffering at various levels as many elected public office holders are already in politicking mood. You have to blow the whistle that people are running fowl of the law,” the Speaker noted.

Similarly, the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Atahiru Jega, expressed optimism that elections will hold in Nigeria’s troubled North-East in 2015.

Jega said this while responding to questions from members of the Senator Andy Uba-led Senate Committee on INEC on Thursday.

He was at the Senate to explain the rationale behind the commission’s decision to create 30,000 additional polling units as part of preparations for the elections.

The INEC chairman explained that while the security situation in the area could not be underestimated, elections could still hold in the three affected states.

According to him, if elections could hold in more volatile areas, it could hold in Nigeria’s North-East, where the situation is being brought under control.

Jega further explained that there was nothing unusual about the increase in the number of polling units across the country because it was done based on need.

He reiterated that the distribution of the 30,000 additional units was based on the number of registered voters in a just and equitable manner.

Jega declared yesterday in Abuja that the lingering Boko Haram insurgency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states will not stop its commission from conducting general elections in the states next year.

He said if elections can hold in Afghanistan and Iraq, it can also hold in the troubled North Eastern part of Nigeria and in particular, Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states that are currently under state of emergency.

The INEC boss explained that while the security situation in the area could not be underestimated, elections could still hold in the three affected states.

According to him, if elections could hold in more volatile areas, it could hold in Nigeria’s north east where the situation is being brought under control.

He explained that there was nothing unusual about the increase in the number of polling units across the country because it was done based on need.

He said: “We are having displacement of people with people leaving where they live and live in camps it is a serious challenge, nobody can underestimate it but the hope of everybody in this country is that this is a temporary problem and you cannot begin to plan long term based on a temporary thing.

“If we now say okay because people are leaving the north east therefore the polling unit you create in the north east should take care of people who have moved out are we saying that this people are not likely to come back before 2015 or whenever we conduct the elections?”

He noted that elections were held in several volatile nations “…including countries which are having problems like ours in terms of security, take Afghanistan, take Iraq and so on.

“We hope and pray that states where emergency is; will stabilize sufficiently for us to be able to conduct elections that are relatively peaceful in those areas and we must plan for that eventuality.”

The INEC helmsman said the commission was obliged to make preparations to hold elections in all parts of Nigeria even where there is the case of displaced people as long as there are registered voters, stressing that there were likely to be displaced people but that there temporary displacement should not be an excuse to disenfranchise them.

On the Adamawa State governorship bye-election, Jega said preparations were in top gear to conduct the exercise across the state.

He informed the Senators that from the briefing he received from the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, life was gradually returning to normal in most parts of the state.

“Yesterday the Adamawa State Electoral Commissioner was here and he gave us adequate briefing. From what we have heard, people are moving back home. (In) Madagali for example, as of yesterday buses were being provided to move people back home from the camps”, he said.

Commenting about the issue, Senator Alkali Jajere (APC, Yobe South) said there was “no Jupiter on earth” that can stop elections from holding in his state.

He alleged that the ruling party could be using the media to fly a kite by speculating that elections may not hold in states under emergency rule, saying “If you look at it closely, it may be the plan of the PDP”.

In his remarks, Senator Magnus Abe said until Nigerians begin to put the nation’s interest above individual or sectional interests, we will fail as a unit.

According to him, anyone who had an evidence based on complaints about the distribution of the polling units should criticize INEC based on such evidence instead of a blanket condemnation.

 

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