The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has said it has to postpone the much awaited presidential polls earlier scheduled for today, Saturday February 16, 2019 to allow for a free and credible conduct of elections, even as the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC has kicked against the seemingly breach.
INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this while briefing newsmen at the commission’s headquarters, saying that continuing with the election as earlier scheduled for today, 16th February, 2019, was no longer feasible.
According to him, “Following a careful review of the implementation of its logistics and operational plan, and the determination to conduct free, fair, and credible elections, the commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the elections as scheduled is no longer feasible.”
He therefore announced that the presidential and National Assembly elections had been moved to February 23, 2019.
He also said that the governorship and state assembly elections have also been moved by one week to March 9, 2019.
According to him, “consequently, the Commission has decided to reschedule the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to Saturday, 23rd February 2019.
Furthermore, the Governorship, State House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections is rescheduled to Saturday 9th March 2019. This will afford the Commission the opportunity to address identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of our elections.
“This was a difficult decision for the Commission to take, but necessary for the successful delivery of the elections and the consolidation of our democracy.
“The Commission will meet key stakeholders to update them on this development at 2pm on Saturday, 16th February 2019 at the Abuja international Conference Centre”, he added.” Earlier, Rotimi Oyekanmi, the chief press secretary to INEC’s chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, had informed newsmen that the commission had taken a decision after the crucial meeting attended by the chairman and 12 national commissioners.
According to him, “A decision has been taken, but you’d have to hear from the horse’s mouth.”
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council, has reacted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) decision to postpone the Presidential/National Assembly and Gubernatorial/House of Assembly Elections to Saturday, February 23, 2019, and Saturday, March 9, 2019, respectively.
Festus Keyamo, Director, Strategic Communications, in a statement Saturday morning, condemned what he called the tardiness of the electoral umpire.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari had since cooperated fully with INEC by ensuring everything it demanded to conduct free and fair elections were promptly made available to it.
“This news is, therefore, a huge disappointment to us and to our teeming supporters nationwide and around the world, many of whom have come into the country to exercise their franchise”, the statement reads.
“We do hope that INEC will remain neutral and impartial in this process as the rumour mill is agog with the suggestion that this postponement has been orchestrated in collusion with the main opposition, the PDP that was never ready for this election.
“We note that all the major credible demographic projections have predicted a defeat of the PDP and it seriously needed this breather to orchestrate more devious strategies to try and halt President Buhari’s momentum. It did the same as the ruling Party in 2015, when it realized the game was up, by orchestrating the postponement of the 2015 elections by six weeks. Now, it may be up to its old trick again.
“We have earlier raised the alarm that the PDP is bent on discrediting this process the moment it realized it cannot make up the numbers to win this election. We are only urging INEC not collude with the PDP on this.
“We are truly worried because as early as Friday morning, some known PDP Social Media influencers unwittingly announced this postponement, but quickly deleted the message and apologized to the public that it was fake news. We do not want to be forced to a situation of announcing our total loss of confidence in INEC, because we know where that would leave our democracy.
“It is in the light of the above that we wish to appeal to Nigerians and our supporters to be patient, calm and resolute despite this temporary setback. Let us not give anyone, especially the PDP, the opportunity to plunge this nation into a crisis, which is what they earnestly desire. Its imminent defeat is just a few days away.
“Lastly, we wish to draw the attention of INEC and the world to observe that the PDP has clearly and openly said it plans to announce parallel results through some funny device it has procured or developed.
“We wish to reiterate that it is only INEC that is legally and constitutionally empowered to declare results and it constitutes an offence for anyone to do so. We urge INEC to speak up now and warn the PDP to desist from this ignoble act that is capable of plunging the nation into a crisis of immeasurable proportions.”
By Gboyega Adeoye