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Vol 51 No 18

Published 10th September 2010


Nigeria

Good man, impossible job

Despite the time constraints, hopes for straight elections are vested in the Electoral Commission’s impressive Chairman Attahiru Jega

Everyone, in and out of government, acclaimed the appointment in June of academic and trades unionist Attahiru Jega as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission. Now with elections at state and federal levels set for next January, oppositionists and dissidents in the governing People’s Democratic Party (PDP) say the timetable will be a licence for rigging – and Jega cannot stop it. Unflustered, Jega has told Africa Confidential in Abuja that he can run credible elections. There will be no question, he insisted, of anyone pressurising him to declare results that his commissioners have not independently verified. Just over half of the INEC commissioners are seen as independent and were appointed under new stricter rules, but some of the other commissioners and minor officials helped organise the highly flawed elections in 2003 and 2007.Certainly, the tighter timetable helps incumbent Goodluck Jonathan as it gives his rivals less time to organise. We hear he is set to announce next week that he will seek the PDP nomination. Initially, his main problem will be outflanking his rivals for the PDP nomination. He will help his campaign with a flurry of policy announcements and spending allocations; next year’s budget has just been set at N4.56 trillion (US$29.6 billion).

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