INEC May Hold 2015 Elections in January

The Independent National Electoral Commission Friday in Abuja announced that the 2015 general election will take place either in January or February of that year. This is unlike previous general election held in April of the election year.
Chairman of INEC, Prof.  Attahiru Jega, announced the planned change of date for the general election at a two-day international workshop on “Ethics and Elections: Challenges and Institutional Responses.” organised by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation at the Ibeto Hotels, Abuja.
The INEC boss explained that where elections take place in January or February of an election year, it would help address litigation arising from the elections.
But for the planned change of date for the 2015 elections to take place, the constitution has to be amended. This is because the 1999 constitution stipulates that elections shall be held on a date not earlier than sixty days and not later than thirty days before the expiration of the term of the last holder of that office.
But the power to fix the actual dates of the elections, according to section 132 (1) of the same constitution, belongs to INEC.
Many think the complex nature of constitution amendment could create problems for INEC in actualising the planned new date for the 2015 general elections.
However, the INEC Chairman did not address this fear during the workshop.
However, Jega said the 2011 general election would have been held earlier to allow for litigation to be resolved before the inauguration date of May 29th but for the voter registration exercise which preceded it.
The INEC Chairman regretted that pre-election cases arising from disagreements over nominations and primaries had to drag on for years, eating deep into the tenures of some candidates.
He expressed hope that the judiciary would hence forth not deal with such cases routinely but adopt a business-like approach.
Said Jega, “The key challenge is when these cases go on forever; they are not given priority. Three years after, we’re still dealing with pre-election cases.”
On Independent Candidacy, the INEC Chairman said it was a position he had been canvassing for and which he supported but insisted that given the number of political parties, there was the need to set regulations, thresholds and benchmarks.
The INEC Chairman also used the opportunity of the conference to canvass for Direct Line of Charge for the funding of State Independent Electoral Commissions. He argued that if they were funded like INEC, they would be strengthened and be more independent.
Participants at the workshop were drawn from the Election Management Bodies (EMBs) of six countries, namely: Nigeria,    Ghana,    Mali, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Cote D’Ivoire.