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2011 POLLS: TEST CASE FOR NIGERIA – GERMAN ENVOY

By NBF News

The German government has expressed its interest in the political situation in Nigeria.

German Ambassador to the country, Mr. Joachim Schimillen on Thursday said the European Union (EU) and his home government plan to use the nation's elections next year as test case to erase electoral fraud in Nigeria.

Schimillen disclosed that he had requested for his four-year tenure, which ended recently to be extended to enable him be part of the 2011 polls as he was in 2007.

He said the EU was interested in seeing that the promise late President Umaru Yar'Adua, made during his inauguration speech in 2007 to have free and fair elections that would meet international standard comes to pass in the 2011 polls.

Schimillen has also assured of EU's support to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in organizing an election that the voter's vote will count in the next election.

Recently, the chairman of the INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega disclosed that the much awaited credible voters' register will be ready before next year elections.

Donor agencies last week gave a grant of $80 million through what they described as Joint Donor Basket Fund (JDBF)

It was part of the Democratic Governance for Development in Nigeria (DGD) document to the federal government in support of democratic governance for development in Nigeria ahead of the 2011 elections.

The German diplomat disclosed this in an intercation with newsmen at a lunch to introduce the new press attaché with the German Embassy in Abuja, Dr. Burkard Weth, and the new attaché for economic and development affairs, Mrs. Sophia Armanski as the three-year tenure of Christina Jöckle and Caroline Eick.

According to the Ambassador, 'it is very important and that was one of the reasons I was asking for an extension of my time in Nigeria. I have spent four years here and I will stay one year longer, the reason is I will like to see the elections again. I was here in 2007. I saw the elections, I went round the country. I was in different polling stations and I had the opportunity to meet the late President Yar'Adua when he was elected a day later. And we talked a lot about elections and the outcome and how it was organized. And I think one of the promises he made during his inauguration speech was that the 2011 elections in Nigeria would meet the international standard. I truly hope so.

'You know the INEC chairman has just been inaugurated and time is running out and I can't really say when you will have the elections whether it will be in January or April but still if it is January, that means the primaries maybe in August or September. We have also not seen the discussion who the candidates are, is the president likely to run or not. There is the issue of zoning and I have read in your papers about other likely candidates.

'The most important thing to me is to see the next elections. I don't like to qualify it but I am sure you have seen the report of the EU and they have made it absolutely clear what they think about the last elections and that of 2003 and so we are all hoping to see a better election than the last two but I am sure we will see some improvements.

'The issue of zoning, who runs the next election etc, is what your politicians and Nigerians will have to decide. Ours is just o observe and write our reports'.

Speaking on the support the EU and the German government will give INEC, Schimillen said: 'We have supported INEC with an amount of money and I think we will support them again.'