Election Monitor Publisher, Abiodun Ajijola, presenting some copies of Election Monitor Newsletter to INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega recently came up with the idea of holding all elections in the country on the same day. “I think that in the future, not 2015, elections should be held in same day in line with global practices and Nigeria should move in that direction in the future. Staggered elections are not cost effective and it is not cost efficient and it is expensive,” Clearly, INEC recognises that staggering the General elections may continue at least as far as the 2015 general elections are concerned. There are administrative hurdles associated with conducting the national assembly, state houses of assembly, gubernatorial and presidential elections in one day. For example the key difference between a staggered and single day election administratively is the complexity of the ballot paper.
However, Kenya and Ghana also have higher adult literacy rates than Nigeria, but have much smaller population densities. This means that they will find it easier to run elections in a single day because of fewer people to administer at the polling units, fewer polling units and more literate people to vote.
Sudan is the only country here with a lower adult literacy rate than Nigeria, but also with the lowest population density. The very low population density is highly favourable for Sudan’s single general elections but it must be noted that the elections were carried out in four consecutive days.
In summary, this means that Nigeria may face significant challenges with successfully implementing single day general elections because of its huge population density which will make polling units difficult to administer (with 120,000 polling units, 613 people are on average in each PU) and the country’s low adult literacy rate will also compound issues with voters likely getting confused and frustrated. For this reason 2015 may be too early to commence single day general elections in Nigeria although a pilot run covering about 6 locations, one in each geopolitical zone should be experimented.