U.S Tasks Nigeria On Violence Free 2015 Polls

Election ViolenceAhead of the forthcoming 2015 general elections, the United States Government has urged Nigeria to ensure the conduct of free, fair and credible elections that would be free of violence.

The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, says it is only when the votes count that the electorate would accept the outcome of the result.

This was on Monday while declaring open a workshop for journalists on community reporting in the build up to the 2015 elections, organized by the American Embassy in collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Kaduna, North-West, Nigeria.

According to the Ambassador, the 2015 elections present a golden opportunity for Nigeria to demonstrate its lasting commitment to democratic values and institutions.

While stating that the United States was ready to support Nigeria on its journey to another democratic path, he emphasized the need for the government to tackle the issue of insecurity in all areas affected by insurgency.

He called on Nigerians to refrain from advocating , fomenting or condoning violence before, during or after the elections.

Mr Entwistle also urged political parties and the government to ensure that all registered voters participate freely in a peaceful and transparent process.

Also as Nigeria’s elections draw near, journalists are expected to play a greater role in informing the public with a view to allowing them make good choices on who would run the affairs of the country for the next four years.

The Guest Speaker, Professor of Mass Communication from University of Nebraska, USA, Gary Kebbel, said that the aim of the workshop was geared towards supporting Nigerian journalists to do a better job during the forthcoming election.

According to him, journalists have a key role to play in ensuring a free, fair and violence-free 2015 general elections.

The NUJ President, Mr Mohammed Garba, advised them to provide an impartial and complete set of information that would allow the citizens to make informed decisions.

He also urged the federal and state governments to step up the fight against insurgency in the north east and other affected areas to ensure the safety of the electorates, Journalists and electoral officials.

Some of the journalists covering the north eastern part of the country also allayed the fears of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) about conducting a violence free election in the zone, due to intensified deadly attacks being carried out by the Boko Haram members in the zone.

They called for proper equipping and motivation of the nation’s security forces to enable them face the terrorists squarely.

U.S. Tasks Nigerian Parties On Violence Free Elections

James Entwistle urged political parties to ensure a violent-free general elections in 2015.

The United States has tasked Nigerian political parties and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure a violent-free election that will be free, fair and credible.

The call was made in a meeting on Friday between the leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr John Oyegun, and the US Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle.

Mr Oyegun stressed that a credible election would only be achieved in Nigeria where there is fairness, equity, justice and the right to choose is respected and guaranteed.

He asked the US envoy to advise all political parties, particularly the ruling party, to help ensure that elections in Nigeria were truly free, fair and credible.

“A proper level playing field should be guaranteed,” he said.

John Oyegun said that Nigeria’s election would be free and fair if a level playing field is created.

Mr Entwistle stressed that the American government was not holding the meeting with political parties to express its support for any party, but emphasised that its interest was in ensuring that Nigeria’s election was credible.

“We are not here to support any party. We are just here to support what you have just talked about – a credible process in which the Nigerian people can freely express their wishes. That is what it is all about and that is why we provide support for INEC and we have tried to provide support to civil society as we get ready for this elections.

“That is where we are coming from. Now you have probably seen on TV, radio and all of these things. As I travel around this country, I talk quite a bit about the importance of non-violence in elections, before during and after elections.
We can all agree that there is no place for it and I encourage all candidates or parties to commit themselves now well ahead of the elections to not participate in or sponsoring violence in any way,” he said.


INEC To Conduct 2015 Elections With Digital Ballot Boxes

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor  Attahiru Jega, on Thursday said that  all ballot boxes for the 2015 elections would be digitalised in order to make ballot box snatching impossible in polling stations and reduce election fraud by politicians.

Speaking  at the closing ceremony of a four-day retreat for the commission’s national  commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners in Kaduna,  Professor Jega said the new digitalised system would render ballot box snatching  invalid and therefore advised  politicians with such wishful dream to drop it.

The INEC boss said: “henceforth every polling booth would have a specialised digital number and all voting cards for that particular station would carry the digital number.

“When you register in polling booth A, your registration number is one; everybody that registered there will bear number one, which means that the polling unit is A1. If your polling unit is B, you have B1/1-500. If your voting card is registered under B unit and it finds its way into A unit, that vote automatically becomes invalid.

“It pays for people contesting in the election to ensure that they play by the rules of the game, because when you snatch boxes from one polling unit to another, you stand the chance of losing your votes as they will all be declared invalid.

“With this new system and other initiatives put in place by the Commission, 2015 will witness a hitch-free election, even though I cannot assure you of a perfect election as we are learning day by day.”

This, he noted, would make ballot box snatching difficult for politicians.

While urging politicians to play the game according to the rule, Jega noted that politicians that snatched ballot boxes, would be detected and their votes declared invalid.

On the  de-registration of political parties,  Jega said the commission stood by its decision even as the matter was before a court.