News: INEC chief says he will not resign.


Abuja – The head of Nigeria’s electoral
commission said on Monday that he would
not resign, rejecting calls from some
supporters of President Goodluck Jonathan
for him to stand down before a March 28
election. Jonathan’s ruling People’s Democratic Party
(PDP) has criticised Attahiru Jega’s handling of
the electoral process and some accuse him of
bias towards the main opposition All
Progressives Congress (APC) candidate,
former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, charges he denies. Also read: APC alleges PDP planning to sabotage elections “I believe it would be a disservice to this
country at this point in time for me to say I’m
resigning,” Jega, chairman of the Independent
National Electoral Commission (INEC), told
reporters in the capital Abuja. Some of Jonathan’s supporters have posted
advertisements in newspapers accusing Jega
of “plunging the nation into crisis”, by failing
to produce and distribute voter ID cards on
time. All the adverts also urged people to vote
for Jonathan. If Jega is forced out or resigns, the opposition
is likely to cry foul and dispute the result. The manner in which Africa’s most populous
nation conducts this election will be closely
watched by investors and world powers.
Any dispute over the result could trigger
violence, especially with an increasingly
polarised electorate. Jega announced a six week delay in the
election last month – it was originally
supposed to happen on Feb. 14 – saying he
had been told by the military that it needed
more time to retake territory controlled by
Islamist militant group Boko Haram. The opposition condemned the delay, which
was widely viewed as INEC yielding to
pressure from the PDP. “Yes there have been all sorts of demands for
either my resignation or my removal and
even now some demonstrations for that, as
far as I’m concerned I have a job to do and I
remain focused to do it,” Jega said. A PDP spokesman did not immediately
respond to a request for comment. Jega said
67 million out of 68.8 million permanent voter
cards (PVCs) had so far been produced, with
56 million collected, and that all would be
finished and distributed by the election day. “We are doing everything possible to make
sure that everyone gets their PVCs,” he said. Buhari, a Muslim northerner, draws the
majority of his support from the largely
Muslim north, while Jonathan draws much of
his from the largely Christian south and east.



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