The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, has listed challenges facing the commission ahead of the 2015 general elections.
Jega, who listed the challenges in an interactive forum with the media in Abuja on Wednesday, also said that the recent governorship election in Ekiti State was not militarised.
Listing the challenges ahead of 2015 elections, he said that they included, “Insecurity, funding, attitudes of political class, apathetic and inactive citizenry, delay in amendment to the legal framework, completion of the review of electoral constituencies and polling units and prosecution of election offenders.”
He, however, said that the commission had carried out some reforms, which had led to the success of the Ekiti governorship election.
“These challenges are not insurmountable and we will spare no effort to ensure that aspirations of Nigerians for free, fair, credible and peaceful elections are actualised in 2015,” Jega said.
He stated that INEC carried out the reforms after it reviewed the 2011 elections.
According to him, the review of 2011 elections shows that credible polls require adequate preparations, openness and partnership of all stakeholders.
Jega said some of the reforms carried out by the commission were implemented during the Ekiti State governorship election.
He said that part of the reforms was biometric voter registration, which had enhanced the integrity of voter register.
The chairman stated, “We have rolled out in three phases, a programme of continuous voter registration nationwide. The CVR offers fresh opportunity to get more citizens into the electronic register ahead of the 2015 general elections.
“Unlike the November 2013 Anambra State governorship election, our experience in the more recent Ekiti State election showed that we are making progress in enhancing the integrity of the register of voters.”
He disclosed that the commission had started issuing permanent voter cards to all duly registered voters.
Jega said that the PVCs, which were used during the Ekiti State governorship election, would be “swiped with card readers in 2015 elections to ensure 100 per cent verification and authentication of voters.”
The chairman added that the commission had ensured training and retraining of its staff as part of preparations for 2015 elections.
Another reform, Jega said, was the improved feature of sensitive electoral materials,
These, he said, included serial numbering and colour-coding of ballot papers and result sheets as well as security coding of ballot boxes.
The chairman added that electoral procedures, including pasting of result at polling units and collation centre, were more open during the Ekiti poll.
Defending the deployment of security agents during the poll, he said, “There is no way the Ekiti State governorship election can be defined as being militarised.”
When asked if he would want a similar situation in Osun State, he said, “I want security agencies to do everything possible to secure the electoral process. I want them in particular to protect our personnel and materials.”
He added that security agencies should ensure that there was peace so that people would come out and vote.Jega also faulted a report that INEC would not conduct 2015 elections in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states because of the state of emergency the Federal Government had declared in the states