Mixed reactions on Thursday trailed the new timetable approved by the Senate for the 2011 general elections.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the National Assembly on Wednesday, concluded voting on the provision for a new timetable as requested by INEC recently, thereby altering the provisions of the 1999 constitution.

The changes ensure that elections are held not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the end of tenure of office.

It should be recalled that the Electoral Act 2010 had slated the general elections for January, 2011.

In its reaction, the Patriotic Alliance of Nigeria (PAN) said that INEC must now get down to business.

National Coordinator of PAN, Chief Maxi Okwu told NAN that any other excuse from the commission should not be considered.

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“INEC now has what it had been clamouring for. With the buck passed to it, the commission must ensure that nothing impedes the 2011 polls,’’ he said.

In his remarks, the spokesman for the Save Nigeria Group (SNG), Mr. Yinka Odumakin said that INEC should adopt the modified open-secret ballot, if it wanted to conduct credible polls.

“It is not enough to have a new timeline. The bottom-line is the credibility of the polls which can only be achieved through the modified open secret ballot,’’ he said.

Odumakin said that unless there was free ad fair polls in 2011, the courts would be inundated again with a deluge of petitions.

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“Another issue that we seem to ignore is that of punishment for electoral offenders, especially INEC staff– where the commission is indicted for electoral fraud,’’ he said.

According to him, manipulators and riggers should be sanctioned  if the  National Assembly is serious about helping INEC to conduct credible elections in 2011.

Also speaking, the Chairman of the National Action Council (NAC), Dr. Olapade Agoro observed that “there should be seriousness of purpose on the part of INEC.

“There should be less of courtesy visits, lecture gigs and more sitting down at the office to do the work.’’

Agoro noted that the new timetable was enough for the commission to conduct free and fair polls.

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“My major advice is that those declared winners should not be sworn-in until litigations are dispensed with.

“The Segun Oni /Kayode Fayemi legal tussle  in Ekiti is enough for us to learn our lessons about those with stolen mandate  being in office,’’ he said.

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