Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, August 06, 2010

Marching toward an election in Nigeria

Solomonsydelle, writing in the blog Nigerian Curiousity, analyzes progress toward holding an election next year.

After much delay, Nigeria's Electoral Act is practically amended as all that remains is the President's stamp of approval. The changes to the law mostly reflect the suggestions of the…Electoral Reform Committee (ERC). And the electoral body, INEC, got most of the changes it's new leader, Attahiru Jega, pled for. While this new law means that the 2011 elections are one step closer to becoming a reality, certain additional factors could hamper the effective roll out of polls…

After the 2007 elections, then-president Yar'adua acknowledged the fraud and corruption involved and eventually created a committee to review the election, the nation's electoral law and make suggestions on how to improve future elections… [O]nce Goodluck Jonathan became acting president, he announced his support for the ERC's suggestions and eventually sent those suggestions, unchallenged, to the national assembly for review and adoption.

The Senate and House went back and forth debating the electoral act suggestions. As required by the constitution, all 36 state legislative bodies also weighed in on the amended law…

According to INEC's chairman, the body needs between N74 billion to N84 billion to conduct elections… However, a definite announcement on whether INEC will get the money it needs is yet to be made as at publication. 

Specifically, new polling machines must be purchased… [A] review of the voter's register of 19 states indicated that a new register is needed for credible elections… Jega aims to register at least 70 million voters and because of how late the Electoral Act was completed, his agency must register these individuals, procure all necessary materials, train electoral staff and much more in approximately 3 months so as to have a chance of conducting well organized elections that will be considered credible…

For Nigeria to get closer to the establishment of a political system that works within the local context, the 2011 elections must, despite problems, not be seen to be overly corrupt…

For now, all Nigeria must do is create an environment were fair elections can take place. Hopefully, the new electoral act and the solution of certain other problems will get Nigeria closer to the free, fair and credible elections it needs.

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