2011 Election: Sequence Not To Give Jonathan Edge

Source: EMMA UCHE - thewillnigeria.com

ABUJA, July 27, (THEWILL) - The Senate today described as frivolous allegations that the sequence of the 2011 elections was meant to give the President, Goodluck Jonathan a head start over the others in the contest against the governors or members of the National Assembly who are billed to contest in the elections.

Recall that the revised sequence, which is contained in the Electoral bill passed last week, has the National Assembly elections coming first followed by that of the President and then the governorship and state Assembly.

The timetable has become an issue for some politicians with some state governors alleging to be mobilizing for a reversal on the premise that it puts them in tight corner for election manoeuvring.

Addressing journalists in Abuja, Senate Spokesman, Senator Ayogu Eze, said the Senate acted in accordance with the electoral Act.

"Senate of the National Assembly was acting in concert with powers conferred on it both by the constitution and Electoral Act, we can make laws with regards to the conduct of elections to ensure that the elections are conducted in a manner that will give Nigerians the confidence in the system. By stating clearly that, we need three separate elections we have tried to ensure that these elections are separated for purposes of easy administration.

"If we leave it hanging, they might lump them together as in the past and the complains would continue but this time around, we want to make sure that whatever impediment are on the way of free and fair election are removed.

"To assure you that even in the ongoing amendment of the Electoral Act, we are in close consultation with INEC trying to look at the time frame that is very convenient for INEC. They've written to us at the committee level and we have taken this in plenary and it has been passed. These are timeframes that INEC has given to us that if we grant them those time frames; they will be able to conduct the elections. Because when it was suppose to be 90 days they suggested 60 days and we obliged them so that they have enough time before election. So that instead of the voters' register being readiness in October or thereabout they now have up to November, two clear months before election in January.

"So we are working the road with INEC because they are the ones who are going to operate this election. Some of the things we have granted in the electoral act were suggestions made by INEC. The National Assembly is very, very committed.

"The allegation is very surprising and I can tell you it was a very wild allegation and the Senate had an open plenary and committee in its opinion made a recommendation. You know recommendation and at the plenary we need wisdom with the debates of other members, the committee comprised of 44 members of the constitution review committee while nine members of INEC committee that met us when we considered it in NICON Luxury Hotel and when we came to plenary with 109 persons, the view of 109 persons will always be superior to the views of about 50 people. And they thought in their wisdom that for easy of election and to ensure that there are no bad-wagon effect, let us order it because what Nigerians want is credible election thy don't want that somebody has voted this way or this one came first or this one came last.

"All these we have debated and issues traded on the floor so we came to the conclusion that this order is an order that we think will give Nigerians opportunity to vote according to their conscience and vote freely. So if anybody is making that allegation, I will say I'm shocked and surprised", he said.

On the issue of more funding for INEC, Senator Eze said; "I want to let you know that the National Assembly is very willing and once we have the proposal with regards to what fund we need to give INEC, we are going to give it very positive consideration. We are very willing to ensure that we cooperate with INEC to ensure that this election becomes something that will glorify rather than impugn the integrity of Nigeria in the international community. We are ready to work with INEC.

"We are awaiting any proposal from INEC and the Senate is favourably disposed we can't originate the proposal here."