NIGERIA: Poll Shift Costing EU N435m

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 The recent shift in the dates of  the general election will cost the European Union (EU) Election Observer Mission (EOM) in Nigeria 1.8 million Euros (about N435 million) in additional expenses,  the mission’s head, Mr. Santiago Fisas has said.

Fisas made the disclosure on Thursday in Abuja at a session with journalists.
He said the shift in date had shot the mission’s budget from 4.4 million Euros to 6.2 million Euros.

He said the EU election observer mission decided to stay back in Nigeria even when other missions pulled out.

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Attahiru Jega, had Saturday night announced a shift of the presidential  election from February 14 to March 28.

The governorship election, said the INEC chairman, was shifted from February 28 to April 11.

Fisas said the EU mission needed an additional 1.8 million Euros to keep 95 observers in Nigeria for the period.

The financial implication aside, the EU election monitoring chief said the change in date had affected their official and social calendars.

Flanked by deputy chief observer Hannah Roberts and other observers, Fisas, however said there was nothing wrong with the shift so long as it conformed with the Nigerian Constitution.

He, however, was quick to highlight the importance of sticking with the election calendar.

“It is good for people to vote according to the date fixed for the election. There is nothing wrong with changing the date so long as it falls within the time permitted by the constitution,” said the observer mission chief.

According to Fisas, Nigeria’s position as the most populous country in Africa, and the largest economy in the continent, made the election “very important to the EU.”

He described his two meetings with the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, and his meetings with Jega, APC and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders as “very interesting.”

He explained that the EU mission was not interested in who emerged winner or loser in the election, saying his mission, though funded by the EU, is not tied to the political interests of EU member nations.

On his recent disclosure that his mission would not send observers to the troubled North-east, Fisas said the EU election mission had taken the same position in the last election in Niger Republic when Al-Qeada terrorists controlled northern parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the authorities of Nigeria Police hav again re-affirmed its preparedness to ensure an enabling environment for a successful 2015 general election.

The re-assurance came from the Inspector-General of Police (IG) Suleiman Abba, when he played host to the EU delegation led by Fisas.

The police boss maintained that the Force would utilise the six weeks extension in election date announced by INEC to advance its strategies and material requirement.

Fisas saluted the high level of professionalism of the Nigeria Police and urged it to provide a secured environment for a successful general election.

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