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In Case You Missed It: #AskJega Town Hall Meeting
In case you missed it, Professor Attahiru Jega, Chairman Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) held a town hall meeting in Abuja to discuss with the electorate the upcoming elections. If you were not in attendance, you were allowed to ask questions on Twittter via #AskJega.
With 12 days before the commencement of the 2015 elections, Attahiru jega, chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, is featuring at a town hall meeting where he would answer questions from the public on the commission's preparedness and other sundry issues. 11:20 First question is on the progress that INEC has made with card readers since the elections were postponed. 11:23 He says the card reader will help to keep information about who has been accredited; and if there is any dispute about accreditation figures after the election, the card reader will help to solve it.
"If we do not use the card readers, we will lose in many fundamental respects," Jega says.
Next is a question on provision of security for the election and arguments for/against the deployment of soldiers.
"The role of the military, as defined in the constitution, is for the military to provide support to civil authorities if there is a breakdown of law and order."
He says the military participated in the 2011 election within the confines of the constitution: to provide military support to the police if there is breakdown of order.
"We have never had policemen at polling units," Jega says.
"What we have had is three unarmed policemen manning a polling unit, while three armed policemen stay 300m away from the polling unit."
Talking about voter card collection, Jega says collection will never be expected.
"In Ekiti state where we had election last year, PVC collection rate was barely 65 percent. As we speak, collection has not gone up by up to 5 percent," he says. 11:43 "So what is the explanation for the percentage not collected? So if you say that PVC collection must reach a certain percentage, then you will never fix a date for election."
Why did INEC separate accreditation and voting hours?
Jega says the system of getting accredited and voting back-to-back was exploited by Nigerian politicians to rig elections. Thugs, he explained, could go about snatching ballot boxes and voting immediately.
But splitting the two processes limits the risk of rigging via multiple accreditation and voting.
"It is not conventional, but it has served our purpose. It has minimised electoral fraud," he says.
Responding toa question on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), he admits that it would be difficult for voting to occur in places where IDPs have not returned home.
"It is practically impossible for INEC to do that," he says, but INEC is working hard to ensure that they can vote at their IDP camps, which is why arrangements were made to distribute PVCs to them at the camps.
He explains that only 20 percent of IDPs are in camps, while others are living in host communities in the troubled north-eastern states.
"But once IDPs are out of their states, it is impossible for us to organise elections for them and transfer their results to their states. It is not as if we cannot make that happen; but given the time and resource constraint that we have, it will not be possible to do it."
Jega speaks on the fire accident at the INEC electoral institute, dousing fears that it has implications for conduct of the election.
It's the last round of questions for Jega.
On falure of card readers, Jega says it has been agreed that accrediation will be suspended if a card reader fails, and the card reader will be replaced within the time frame of the accreditation. Accreditation time will then be extended to cover for the lost time.
With that, host Kadaria Ahmed brings the town hall meeting to a close.