By NBF News

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega has reiterated the resolve of the electoral body to conduct more credible elections in 2015.

Speaking in a brief interview with LEADERSHIP during the recent Nigeria-US Bi-National Meetings in Washington DC, Attahiru Jega, said that the federal government had given the INEC enough free hand which he said would enable the electoral agency conduct more perfect, credible and successful elections in the country. Noting that conducting free, fair, peaceful and credible elections in Nigeria was a very difficult assignment, the INEC Chairman said that the success expected during the 2015 elections require serious commitment of the government at all levels and the electorates.

Professor Jega continued that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in collaboration with all the security agencies in Nigeria, was ready to curb the activities of those that are behind election malpractices in the country.

On the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States, Jega said that his commission would do everything to ensure that every vote counts so as to avoid post-election violence.

It would be recalled that during the recent Bi-National Meetings in Washington DC, the United States promised to increase its engagement with Nigeria's electoral institutions and civil society to maintain the momentum established by last year's elections. They also promised to support long-term strategies of upcoming gubernatorial elections in some States and nationwide elections in 2015.An agreement signed at the end of the meetings stated that Nigeria, in its contributions, would encourage civil society groups in view of their important roles in providing public confidence in the election results. In an earlier briefing, United States Deputy Secretary, Mr. Burn noted that the Governance, Transparency and Integrity Working Group of the Commission would look towards the 2015 national elections in Nigeria, stressing that the elections would mark another milestone in building on the most credible elections in Nigeria's history last April.

Saying that the BNC's working group on Good Governance, Transparency and Integrity (GTI) can already point to important successes, the US official cited an example that the last April's elections were Nigeria's most successful and credible since its return to democracy in 1999.

'This is due in no small part to our sustained engagement through the GTI working group and our shared commitment to a transparent and consultative preparation for the elections. The United States is proud to have supported the efforts of the Nigerian government and the Independent National Electoral Commission through a $31.3 million election assistance programme in collaboration with the UK,' he noted. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, however, sought for support and assistance from the United States government in building permanent structures which he said, would guarantee continuous conduct of free, fair and credible elections. Ashiru who said that INEC was prepared for the 2015 polls pressed further that the only way to sustain Nigeria's democracy was to build strong institutions that would continue to nurture the democratic process.