Monday, 18 October 2010

Nigeria: Tensions emerge between Senate and election commission

A storm appears to be brewing between Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof Attahiru Jega and the Nigerian Senate. The main point of contention is a comment credited to Jega that appeared to insinuate that the National Assembly was frustrating the Commission's plans to secure a delay in the election timetable.

According to a local daily, Jega stated that if the National Assembly delayed a decision on the approval of the election's timelines extension beyond November, it would negatively affect its plan for the registration of voters and the 2011 elections.

A number of Senators at a plenary sitting on Tuesday 12th October took umbrage at Jega's comments, saying they amounted to “blackmail to rubbish the image of the Senate.” The Senate leadership issued a statement that it was unfortunate for Jega to make such comments about the National Assembly given that the legislature had cut short its recess for the sole purpose of approving INEC's N87.7 billion budget.

Some Senators have stated that they had foreseen a situation in which the National Assembly would be unfairly blamed for the failure of the Commission to properly discharge its duties. Consequently, the Senate has directed its Ethics, Public Petitions and INEC Committees to investigate the comments.

Senate spokesperson Senator Ayogu Eze , addressing the media, also pointed out that the National Assembly was “apprehensive” about INEC's preparedness to conduct the 2011 elections even following any approval of its time extension request. The Senate's concern arises from indications that INEC had not yet ordered the Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines, a crucial component of the Voters' Registration process.

For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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