Abuja - The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, defended the timing of the upcoming general election.
He said the timetable for the 2015 general election was informed by rational and logical considerations and not sentimental or ulterior motivations as suggested by some sections.
He said the Commission was mindful of its own operational effectiveness and global best practice in grouping national elections together on one day, and state elections together on another.
The timetable announced two weeks ago by INEC schedules the National Assembly and Presidential elections for February 14 next year and the Governorship as well as State Assembly elections for February 28.
According to Kayode Robert Idowu, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, made the clarification while fielding questions from audience after a presentation he made at a forum at Chatham House, London.
He said Jega dismissed suggestions that INEC was under external pressure in designing the election timetable the way it did.
"Nobody has put us under any pressure. We did these things logically and rationally, in terms of what we considered best for our country."
He said the Chatham House event was a public forum at the instance of Africa Programme unit of the organisation, which invited Jega to make a presentation on "2015 Elections in Nigeria: Expectations and Challenges."
He said the INEC chairman explained that the country did not have the capacity to have simultaneous elections in one day.
He also disagreed with suggestions that the elections were drastically reordered, when compared to 2011.
“As far as we are concerned, the Presidential election is not positioned first. What we did is that we combined the National elections, so you cannot say that Presidential election is placed first,” said Idowu.
"Some Nigerians wonder why we can't have all the elections in one day. It is true that in some countries, they conduct all their elections in one day. From our own assessment, the enormity of challenges associated with that is such that we are not prepared in the electoral commission to do all the elections in one day. But then, we felt that instead of having three elections, let us have two. In 2011, we had three: we did the National Assembly elections first; then, the Presidential; and then, the Governorship as well as State Assembly elections. But we felt that (in 2015), let us have two elections rather than three. Then we said: what is the best combination in line with global best practice?”
"The global best practice is that you do national elections separate from state elections, if you can't do all together. So, rather than have the Presidential and Governorship elections together, or the National Assembly with State Assembly elections; we said, let us have all the national elections together, and then the state elections. That is the logic, that is the rationale; and it is defensible. But you hear politicians make all manners of allegations; because in their own calculation, some people want certain elections to come first, others want it to come later. If you do not satisfy what they want, then they would start accusing you as if there is an interest being served, or that we came under some pressure. Nobody has put us under any pressure."
- CAJ News