Like other Nigerians, the people of Osun state woke up this morning to the news that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC had postponed the presidential and National Assembly elections by one week.
At a daybreak briefing, Prof Mahmud Yakubu said the postponement became inevitable due to logistics, operational and security challenges. Consequently, for the commission, ” going ahead with the elections as scheduled is no longer feasible.”
In view of this development, Osogbo, the state capital, and other major towns like Ikire, Ilesa, Ile-Ife, Ede, Ejigbo, Ikirun were like ghost towns this morning as majority of residents who were caught unaware about the postponement of the election by INEC stayed indoors preparatory to moving to the polling units to exercise their franchise.
Most major roads were deserted and at business districts, the doors of business concerns, shops and kiosks were under locks and keys.
Activities at the INEC Osun state office which was at a frenetic pace yesterday drawn down early in the morning with staff members leaving in droves after it became clear the election had been shifted by one week with the Presidential/ National Assembly election and the Governorship/State House of Assembly now slated for 23 February and March 9respectively.
Truly, there would have been a major problem had the exercise not been rescheduled, because quite a member of places would not have received materials by the close of voting on Saturday. The magazine learnt that the Osun Resident Electoral Commissioner, Olusegun Agbaje and his principal officers practically relocated their offices to the Central Bank office in Osogbo waiting for the sensitive electoral materials from Ibadan till the wee hours of Saturday morning. It was supposed to have been on the ground by Thursday but eventually arrived after 2am on Saturday. So by the time INEC national commissioners had concluded their meeting in Abuja during which the decision to postpone the election was taken no material had been delivered to INEC in Osogbo.
Now the problem was even compounded by the fact that Osogbo was expected to feed neighbouring Ekiti, Ondo and Kwara states.
Most of the INEC officials from Ondo, Ekiti and Kwara that the Central Bank in Osogbo serviced for collection of sensitive electoral materials left without the materials after the INEC chairman announced the postponement.
Majority of the residents, political actors, civil right activists, traders and artisans spoken to about the shift in the date of the general elections expressed shock, outrage and disappointment.
They charged INEC to put its house in order and desist from taking Nigerians for granted by ensuring the conduct of a timely, free, fair and credible election.