Nigeria’s national security adviser has urged the electoral commission to delay next month’s elections to allow more time for voter card distribution.
Sambo Dasuki, speaking in London, said 30 million cards had been distributed over the last year but the same number still remained to be handed out. The elections, scheduled for 14 February, are the first in Nigeria to require voters to have biometric cards.
Mr Dasuki, speaking at the London think-tank Chatham House, said he had told the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) that it would be sensible to postpone the poll within the three months it had to legally take place.
“It costs you nothing, it’s still within the law,” Mr Dasuki said he had told the Inec chairman.
He told Chatham House that a postponement would be “safer for all of us”.
“If in one year you’ve distributed 30 million, I don’t see how you will distribute another 30 million in two weeks. It doesn’t make sense.”
Dasuki said “the 2015 elections are expected to be relatively peaceful and violence free. The Federal Government has taken all necessary measures to ensure this by making adequate provisions for INEC, security agencies and by supporting numerous sensitisation programs.”
He admitted that there were anxiety in certain quarters about whether elections will hold in the north east and the ability of the government to ensure that the internally displaced will be able to vote but affirmed in the positive.
“Our answer to both of those is yes. As far as is possible we are determined that adequate security will be in place to enable elections in all the areas in the north east that are safe, and that the IDP’s will be provided with the opportunity to exercise their vote”, he explained.
The NSA commended emergence of a strong opposition in the polity, saying it was a sign of the growing maturity of the country’s democracy.
“The emergency of a seemingly viable opposition, as well as the closeness of the race is a clear demonstration of our maturing democracy. Greater voter awareness also means that people are more engaged in the electoral process and determined to protect their right to vote. We on our part are doing all we can to ensure that every Nigerian who wants to vote is able to and that their vote will count.”
Speaking on the theme: Nigeria’s Insecurity: Insurgency, Corruption, Elections and the Management of Multiple Threats, Dasuki demonstrated that Nigeria’s insecurity challenge is both local and global but challenged the international community to show the same and commensurate concern to the rising terrorism in parts of Nigeria as it does in other parts of the world.
He also narrated to them that while Nigeria “continue to face the debilitating effects of corruption we have taken steps to build strong institutions and strengthen our laws in addressing it. As we continue to do this we call on the global community to further address the corrupting influence of big companies and rich countries.
He also told his audience that “successive elections in Nigeria have improved and lessons learnt in 2011 are now being practiced in preparation towards the 2015 elections.
The INEC has a strong team and government has ensured adequate funding and capacity enhancement while putting in place strong coordination mechanisms between the electoral body and other stakeholders.”
“It is my firm belief that Nigeria will emerge stronger, manage her threats better and improve on governance. We are taking these careful but sure steps at the moment. The terrorist threat has focused us on the right path.
“We have developed a new national security strategy that puts our people at the heart of our efforts, a national counter terrorism strategy that employs both hard and soft power and an economic revitalization plan that will bring succour to those most vulnerable and those affected by violence. We continue to reach out to members of the international community to stand with us as we strive to build a united and prosperous country”, he concluded.