Nigeria parliament approves possible April elections


Nigeria’s parliament voted in favour of a constitutional amendment which will allow nationwide polls to be held in April, bringing the country a step closer to finalising its election timetable.

Presidential, parliamentary and state governorship elections in Africa’s most populous nation had been scheduled for January, but the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) requested more time for a badly needed overhaul of voter lists.

Both houses of parliament approved constitutional changes late on Wednesday allowing elections between 30 and 150 days ahead of the May 29 date for swearing in the new administration, accommodating INEC’s proposal that the elections take place in April, Reuters reports.

The constitutional amendment must be ratified by two thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states before being given final approval by parliament, a process expected to take at least a week.

Sceptics say even the three-month delay will not be long enough to allow INEC to overhaul an electoral roll riddled with false names and omitting legitimate voters.

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