Nigeria voter registration to start in January


Nigeria expects to begin registering voters in January for presidential, parliamentary and state governorship elections, although a timetable for the polls has still to be set, the electoral commission said.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has asked for the elections to be pushed back to April to give it time for a badly-needed overhaul of the electoral roll, whose inaccuracies have undermined previous Nigerian elections.

Last week, parliament voted in favour of a constitutional amendment that would accommodate the INEC proposal. The amendment needs to be approved by two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states before being finally ratified, Reuters reports.
“The registration of voters will now be some time in January,” the head of INEC, Attahiru Jega, said late on Monday at a training workshop for commission staff.
“As soon as the formalities are done with, that is the amendment of the constitution and the electoral act by the National Assembly, the commission would announce a new timetable for the conduct of 2010 elections,” he said.

The polls had been scheduled for January. Sceptics say even a three-month delay will not be long enough for INEC to overhaul an electoral roll riddled with false names and omitting legitimate voters.

However, it gives additional time for opponents of President Goodluck Jonathan, who faces a tough battle at the ruling party primaries, to gather strength and campaign against him.