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AC Tasks FG, N/A On 2011 Polls, INEC May Receive Funds This Week

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ABUJA, July 25, (THEWILL) - The Action Congress (AC) has challenged the federal government and the National Assembly to provide the required financial resources and the legal framework respectively to make it possible for INEC to organize successful general elections next year.

In a statement issued in Ilorin by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said specifically that the federal government must urgently provide the 55 to 72 billion naira which INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, said would be needed to compile a fresh voters register for the critical elections.

However THEWILL can report that senior officials of the Federal Ministry of Finance and their counterparts in INEC are currently in discussion over the release of necessary funds to the commission to enable it begin its work on the 2011 elections.

INEC is expected to begin the process for the polls with a review of the voters’ register.

AC also said on its part, the National Assembly must provide the necessary amendments to the Electoral Act to facilitate the compilation of the fresh electoral register, which is the single most important requirement for the organization of free, fair, credible and transparent polls next year.

AC said for a country that has 37 billion US dollars in Foreign Reserves and 3 billion US dollars in its Excess Crude Acount, 72 billion Naira which is less than 500 million US dollars is but a very little price to pay for the organization of successful polls next year and the consolidation of the country's democracy.

''Is is not better to use part of the Excess Crude Account money for compiling a fresh register that will pave the way for successful polls than for the money to be shared out by state governors who will use it as a war chest to rig next year's polls? it queried.

''Let the Jonathan administration back up the President's persistent assurance of organizing credible polls next year by giving the much-needed resources to INEC so it can build a solid foundation for the 2011 elections by compiling a fresh voters' register. Failure to provide the money required for that purpose will translate to setting up INEC to fail next year, and this will be a disaster for Nigeria,'' the party said.

It also tasked the National Assembly to provide the legal framework by amending the necessary sections of the Electoral Act, especially Sections 10 (5) and 21.

''As our party has noted, the belated amendment of the Constitution, especially Sections 116 (House of Assembly), 132 (President) and 178 (Governors), to the effect that elections must hold between 120 and 150 days before the end of their tenures, has created huge problems for INEC and made it a fait accompli for the commission to organize the 2011 polls based on the hugely discredited Iwu's voters' register.

''But if the National Assembly will put national interest above any other considerations and stop playing cheap games, it can still salvage the situation by postponing the commencement of the Amendments so that elections can hold in April, and amending Sections 10 (5) and 21 of the Electoral Act to give more time for fresh voter registration.

''Amending Section 10 (5) of the Act will reduce the end of registration and updating to between 30 and 60 days, and provide additional 8-12 weeks to the 16 weeks available to compile a new register.

''Also, amending Section 21 of the Electoral Act will reduce time for compiling supplementary register, after calling for objections, from 60 days to 30 days and give about 20 weeks to correct the new register,'' AC pointed out.