INEC Is Right To Seek Postponement Of 2011 Polls - ACN

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ABUJA, Sept 20, (THEWILL) - The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has described as a timely and pragmatic the decision by INEC to request for a shift in the dates for the 2011 general elections to give the commission more time for preparations.

In a statement issued in Lagos today by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party expressed its delight that INEC has finally listened to the voice of reason, especially from the party (ACN), that there is just no way the commission could adequately prepare for and hold a free, fair and credible elections in January, because of the downright impossible time frame.

It therefore renewed its call on the National Assembly to suspend the amended Constitution so that INEC can have more time to get a new voter's register ready, which is the barest minimum requirement for organizing successful elections.

The party said even by its own Action Plan, INEC has fallen far behind in its preparations for the polls.

''For example, by the Action Plan, it would take all of 190 days, starting from Aug. 26th, to be ready for the elections, which means the earliest time it would be ready - if everything had started Aug. 26th - will be March 5th, 2011.

''Also, according to the Action Plan, the DDC machines are expected to arrive Monday, Sept. 20th. Yet, the contract for machines has not even been awarded! It is now clear to all, including INEC, that the time-lines are simply impossible.

''We must not allow 87 billion naira to go down the drain just because we want to organize elections in January, a date that INEC had to choose just to comply with the law, rather than with reality. We must not let the opportunity, for us to show the world that successful elections are also possible in our clime, slip by this time just because we want to box ourselves into an impossible time frame. We must get it right this time!

''INEC must know that if things go wrong with the 2011 elections, it will shoulder most of the blame. That is why the commission must show uncommon courage by telling those whose responsibility it is to provide the right atmosphere for successful polls to do so.

"Asking for more time to prepare for the elections is a good starting point for INEC in its determination to organize free and fair elections next year,'' ACN said.

The party also said that once the postponement being sought by INEC is granted, the commission must move quickly to review its time-table and come out with a more realistic one, especially concerning the organization of party primaries for the selection of candidates.

''The reviewed timetable must not contain the anomaly of INEC telling the parties how to organize their own primaries,'' it warned.

ACN said the National Assembly is to blame for what amounts to placing booby traps on INEC's path to organizing credible elections next year, with the orchestrated delay in amending the Constitution as well as generating an unnecessary controversy over whether or not the President needs to sign into law the bill amending the Constitution.

''The truth is that the National Assembly, working with the PDP, never wanted a new voter's register for the 2011 polls, since they benefited immensely from the discredited voter's register used for the 2007 polls. When the assembly realized Nigerians will not accept the discredited voter's register, they brought out their second joker, which is to ensure that INEC does not have enough time to organize the polls. Now that this move has again failed, they should listen to Nigerians by meeting INEC's demand for an expanded time frame to organize the elections,' the statement said.