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Nigeria: Bloggers React to Parliamentary Non-Polls

This post is part of our special coverage Nigeria Elections 2011.

The parliamentary election in Nigeria kicked off on Saturday April 2, 2011 but mid-way it was postponed by the head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega. The electoral chief in his address blamed the non-polls on logistical problems:

As you know the National Assembly (House of Representatives and Senate) elections are supposed to be taking place as I speak. You would also have noticed that things have not proceeded smoothly as expected with the elections. The reason for this is the unanticipated emergency we have experienced with late arrival of result sheets in many parts of the country. The result sheets are central to the elections and their integrity. .. the Commission has taken the difficult but necessary decision to postpone the National Assembly elections to Monday, April 4, 2011.

Ballot boxes at a voting center in the Ketu district of Lagos on April 2, 2011. Photo courtesy of PressTV (www.presstv.com).

Ballot boxes at a voting center in the Ketu district of Lagos on April 2, 2011. Photo courtesy of PressTV (www.presstv.com).

Jega’s reason for the postponement raised the hackles of Nigerians, leading to yet another rescheduling:

The Independent National Electoral Commission announced the rescheduling of the 2011 National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives) elections from April 2nd to April 4th 2011 due to late arrival of result sheets. Since that announcement, several representations have been made to the Commission urging it to consult more widely and to ensure that the two-day postponement is enough to address all the logistical issues that may militate against a successful conduct of the rescheduled elections.

Following these representations and subsequent consultations with stakeholders, the Commission has found that the overwhelming sentiment is to further reschedule the elections. …Consequently, the Commission weighed all the options and considered the wide ranging counsel of Nigerians and decided to reschedule all the elections as follows:

  • Saturday, April 9th 2011 – Senate and House of Representatives (National Assembly) elections.
  • Saturday, April 16th 2011 – Presidential election
  • Tuesday, April 26th 2011 – State House of Assembly and Governorship elections

As expected Nigerian bloggers have not been silent on the shifting and re-shifting of election dates.

Nigeria political angrily announced:

The 2011 general elections took off on a dismal note yesterday as the Independent National Electoral Commission aborted the first election in the series.  While some of the expected 73 million registered voters were at the polling stations waiting to elect 469 lawmakers to the National Assembly, comprising 109 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives, INEC National Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, announced the postponement of the election, citing organisational problems.

Failed Rift claims to have been ‘Jegged’ [Jega is the surname of head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega]:

New Word in English Dictionary: Jega: /v/ je-ga. The act of stupidly wasting the time of a lot of people whilst keeping them under hot sun. E.g. the groom Jegged his bride for another girl! Why are these embassy officials making up Jega without telling us anything? After Jegging for 3 hours I finally got on a bus.

In this Facebook note, Paul Adepoju was bitter:

But from 1pm on Saturday, Prof Maurice Iwu could walk on the streets of his hometown in Imo State a proud man. He has every reason to pomp champagne and have a good laugh after watching and listening to his highly revered successor – Prof Attahiru Jega – announce on international, national and local TVs, radios, websites and blogospheres the rebranded INEC’s “highly regretted” inability to go ahead with what is supposed to be the easiest-of-all-elections in Nigeria considering the fact that most Nigerians are not interested in the National Assembly elections.

Reuben Abati, revered columnist, said that the postponement due to incompetence:

The postponement of the 2011 National Assembly election is an open verdict on INEC’s complete unpreparedness for the assignment. It is so shameful. Many Nigerians would remember this as the first time since 1999 that a major general election would be postponed nationwide due to INEC’s failure.

Adeola Aderounmu called for Jega’s resignation:

Jega has fooled a whole country made up of over 150m people, an aggregation of the largest population of black people in the world. He should resign!

Kunle Durojaiye in his defense of the electoral head, notes that:

Cancelling an ongoing election, due to obvious irregularities and logistics failures is definitely a departure from prior national experiences – the 2007 elections were not cancelled even though they were declared the most disputed and fraudulent in Nigeria’s history. The 2003 elections also had their own fair share of challenges, yet took place without cancellation. Today, perhaps what we see is a glimmer of light in a dark tunnel – Jega has cancelled the elections to uphold the credibility of the eventual results.

Kunle was not a lone voice, Akin pleads that Jega should be given another chance:

I believe Professor Jega was doing the best with the cards he was dealt and I would not be surprised if false assurances he got from his reports about capability and readiness were done to thwart the process, embarrass him and probably bring him to heel so that he gets with the system or he is compelled in exasperation to resign. In my view, Professor Jega should not resign but with the resolution that he has given to tackle this issue of elections do everything he needs to do deliver credible elections with the support of every well-meaning Nigerian.

Feathers Project concludes that a postponement is better than a flawed election:

Nonetheless, methinks it’s too early to condemn Jega or INEC. For one, the INEC boss admitted his mistake; this is something rare in our climes. Besides what do we prefer a flawed election or a postponed but credible poll? It is time we realize that the change we so long desire will not come about without sacrifice. If it will take a shift … to achieve a credible and free election, so be it.

This post is part of our special coverage Nigeria Elections 2011.

3 comments

  • […] Read full article on Global Voices […]

  • i really think jegga is a man of his word. i will have a credible elections. looking at this word many thinks he was playing and try to take him for a right, but they forgot he his in charge. i dont want to mention names. this man has all the informations he needed that is why he did what he did.
    lets respect the law and defend our democracy like jegga is doing with credibility. i love his courage and gods.
    we must have a credible election by all means in nigeria. God bless nigeria

  • […] However, this is not the first time a national election will postponed in Nigeria. In 2011, we reported the reaction of Nigerian netizens to the rescheduling of the national parliamentary […]

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