• Friday, December 01, 2023
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INEC finally shifts polls to March 28, April 11

Political parties demand two months extension of primaries timeline

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has shifted the February 14 and 28 polls for six weeks to perfect among others security strategies and issues emanating from the distribution of permanent voter cards (PVCs).

Announcing this to newsmen on Saturday at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, INEC chairman, Attahiru Jega, said the decision to have the election postponed was due to some lapses INEC had to contend with in the distribution of permanent voter cards (PVCs), adding also that the reports made available to him by security agencies have indicated that it may be difficult to go ahead with the elections scheduled for February 14 and 28.

Jega said after wide consultations, the commission reached the decision to have the presidential and the National Assembly elections take place on March 28 while the governorship and state House of Assembly elections have been rescheduled for April 11

At the meeting the electoral body had with all the 28 political parties at its headquarters in Abuja on Saturday, sixteen political parties asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to delay the general election by six weeks.

Some of the parties that called for the postponement are United Democratic Party, the Citizen Peoples Party, the Peoples Party of Nigeria, Action Alliance, Peoples Democratic Congress, Labour Party, Unity Party of Nigeria, Alliance for Democracy, Democratic Peoples Party, the New Nigerian Peoples Party and the Independent Democrat.

Peter Ameh, secretary general of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), made the disclosure of the political parties to journalists after the meeting.

He said only nine political parties were asking for the elections to proceed as currently scheduled.

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According to him, two political parties were neutral. However, he did not name the political parties.

Also, speaking to journalists, Bashir Yusuf, national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), who led a coalition of political parties opposed to the postponement of the elections, disclosed that the All Progressives Congress (APC) maintained that the elections should take place.

In addition, Wale Oladipo, the national secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, said that the party would adhere to whatever decision INEC took.

At the meeting of the Residence Electoral Commissioners, there was sharp disagreement between the commissioners as 21 of the 37 RECs voted in support for the elections to hold as scheduled while 16 were of the opinions that the elections should be shifted to afford the commission enough rooms to perfect its strategies for the smooth runnings of the elections.

Jega in his opening remarks at the meeting, said: “The main purpose of calling for the meeting is to update the political parties on the commission’s readiness for the 2015 general elections.

He added that the meeting was to also focus on  some new developments and how the commission should address this new development.

Speaking in the same vein, Yunusa Tanko, chairman Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) regretted that some of the issues coming up now had been raised by the council but were not taken seriously by the commission.

He explained that the smaller parties have never been treated equally, stressing that it is only fair for all the parties to be allowed to make input on the issue.

Tanko also warned that the country must come first in whatever contribution the individual parties would be making.