The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) has postponed the parliamentary elections in Nigeria to Monday, April 4, 2011. INEC head, Professor Attahiru Jega gave the reason for the shift in this address:
As you know the National Assembly (House of Representatives and Senate) elections are supposed to be taking place as I speak. You would also have noticed that things have not proceeded smoothly as expected with the elections. The reason for this is the unanticipated emergency we have experienced with late arrival of result sheets in many parts of the country. The result sheets are central to the elections and their integrity. Accordingly, in many places, our officials have not reported at the polling units, making it now difficult to implement the Modified Open Ballot Procedure that we have adopted. Not only do we have to enter the results in the sheets, the number of accredited voters is also to be entered in the result sheet. While we could have proceeded with the elections in a few States of the country, where all the materials are available, such as Lagos, Kaduna, Kebbi, Delta, Zamfara and Enugu, among others, in order to maintain the integrity of the elections and retain effective overall control of the process, the Commission has taken the difficult but necessary decision to postpone the National Assembly elections to Monday, April 4, 2011.
Of course, the nation has been a buzz since Jega’s announcement. Some have described INEC’s action as a national disgrace:
Debo Adeniran, head of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders pressure group, said the postponement was “a national shame and a monumental waste of time and resources.”
Voters harshly criticized the disarray, including those who had waited since the early morning for polling stations to open and opposition political parties also criticized the move.
“We have once more succeeded in advertising our national incompetence,” said Yinka Odumakin, spokesman for the opposition Congress for Progressive Change
Others have calling for Jega’s head, demanding that he steps down:
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Executive Secretary said: “Prof. Attahiru Jega’s position as Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is no longer tenable. He must now step down immediately in the national interest.
Nonetheless, methinks it’s too early to condemn Jega or INEC. For one, the INEC boss admitted his mistake, this is something rare in our climes. Besides what do we prefer, a flawed election or a postponed but credible poll? It is time we realize that the change we so long desire will not come about without sacrifice. If it will take a shift to Monday to achieve a credible and free election, so be it. For once let us stop being perpetual cynics.