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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MACTV News: Group Plans Sly Elections Monitoring in Nigeria, Posted by Menelik Zeleke

Febuary 23,2011
Williams Ekanem
Members of the Council for Youth Empowerment, a nongovernmental organization involved in pro-democracy and youth development are to surreptitiously video proceedings during the April 2011 general elections in Nigeria.

Co-founder of the group, Mr. Reno Omokri disclosed who disclosed this on Tuesday in Washington D.C said over 200 members of the group will be scattered all round the country to get stealthily video details of events during the fourth coming elections for firs hand assessment of the elections.

In his speech as a guest speaker at a public event on “Can Nigeria Hold Credible Elections “ co-sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace and
Africare, Omokri listed threats to the April general elections in Nigeria to include compromised officials of the electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), ethnic religious tension in the country as well as tension in the judiciary.

In his opening remarks at the function which attracted a number of Nigerians and foreign nationals, another guest speaker, Professor Peter Lewis said the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has incumbency advantage in the elections in which about 63 parties are participating.

According to Lewis who is an associate professor and director of African studies at John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies the active involvement of inner circle activist whose interest is very far from national interest questions the credibility of the forth coming elections.

Giving a rundown of events that lead to the current state, he pointed out that most vocal opponents of the Jonathan / Sambo group have since gravitated to the group they were so strongly opposed to before and during the primaries.

Lewis is of the opinion that although early pronouncements by President Goodluck Jonathan on the need for  credible elections, Jonathan’s candidacy in spite of the opposition has further raised questions on his intentions.

The John Hopkins professor listed the reinvigorated civil society groups in Nigeria, self-interested political actors and negative use of party machinery as factors that may impinge on the credibility of the elections.

Coupled with the increasing use of money to buy votes, Lewis said he is cautiously optimistic about the outcome of the elections.

In his intervention, Dave Peterson said that for the first time in Nigeria’s voting history, a credible voters register is in place, even though he raised great on what he called the new paradigm where ruling political parties embark on spending spree.

Peterson, who is the senior director of the Africa Program of the National Endowment for Democracy, a privately-incorporated, publicity-funded grant-making organization in Washington, expressed optimism that there is relatively a huge improvement in the preparation towards the elections.

He however frowned at what he called “the imposition of candidates during the primaries.”

Nigeria Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Adefuye told the gathering the elections in Nigeria would be very credible because there is a great yearning for free and fair elections in the country.

According to the Ambassador, “as it now, Nigerians feel insulted that it is now bug by elections malpractices even though the country conducted a world acclaimed free and faire elections in 1993, although the results were annulled by Ibrahim Babangida.”

He dismissed comments that President Jonathan lacks political experience pointing out that Jonathan has held political positions from the councils, to State, vice president and now President wondering what kind of experience people are talking about.

Nigeria’s 2011 elections will mark  the fourth multiparty polls if power transfer occurs, only the second hand over of civilian administrations since the country’s return to democracy in 1999.

Past elections have featured political assassinations, voter intimidation, intra-and inter-party clashes and communal unrest.

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