INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega
By Chuks Okocha
Preparations for the 2015 general election is gathering momentum as the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, yesterday said arrangements were being finalised for unregistered Nigerians, who have attained the voting age, to register.
He spoke during the opening ceremony of a two-day workshop organised for INEC Public Affairs Officers (PAOs) in Abuja.
Jega, who was represented by the INEC National Commissioner for Publicity, Dr. Chris Iyimoga, said the commission would soon embark on delimitation of constituencies and establishment of more polling units across the country before the 2015 general election.
Though, he noted that the law provided for delimitation exercise to be carried out only after a national census or head count in the country, he said the next one would be conducted in 2016 since the last one was in 2006.
According to the INEC Chairman, “The exercise is principally meant to allow those who have turned 18 years since the last exercise to register and to allow those who did not register before the 2011 general elections to do so.”
On the production of first batch of 40 million permanent voter cards, he said: “These cards, which are chip-based and have security features contain vital information about the voter.
“By the time they would be put to use in the next elections in 2015,they would be authenticated by card readers which would make sure that each voter card contains relevant information about the voter and that the voter who has turned up at the polling station to cast his or her vote is the authentic holder or owner of such card.”
He explained that there was need to create additional polling units in the country because of “demographic shifts in certain parts of the country, occasioned by ethno-religious crises or sheer explosion of population in certain areas.”
The INEC chairman also explained that the commission had to create voting points to decongest some polling units experienced during the 2011 general election.
“My dear Public Affairs Officers, you will agree with me that these projects are not only mouthful, they are ambitious, momentous and delicate. And they call for strenuous and professional explaining to our many stakeholders if we want to succeed,” Jega added.
He said he would depend on the participants to help him drive the process by effectively communicating the details of the projects to the public and soliciting their support and understanding for “us to achieve the desired objectives.”
The workshop is also coming at a time the commission is restructuring and re-organising. These are not bogey words but are metaphors for making the commission better and more professional. They are also intended to improve the working condition of the staff so that they can serve with more enthusiasm, commitment and integrity,” he stated.