By: Adeola Ajakaiye, in Kano
A cross section of electorate in the commercial city of Kano has continued to decry the sudden postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly, earlier slated for today.
Although most of the electorate appreciated the issues of challenges in logistics and operational plans cited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as reasons for the postponement, they are however, not happy with the sudden development.
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari, who spoke at his country home in Daura, in the neighbouring Katsina State, has also expressed disappointment with the postponement, saying the cost of the postponement is high on the sides of the electorate, as well as other local and international stakeholders in the election.
“I am deeply disappointed that despite the long notice given and our preparations both locally and internationally, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the Presidential and National Assembly within hours of its commencement.
“Many Nigerians have traveled to various locations to exercise their right to vote, and international observers are gathered INEC themselves have given assurances, day after day and almost hour after hour that they are in complete readiness for the election” President Buhari noted.
Also, reacting to the postponement, some of the electorate who spoke to BDSUNDAY, in Kano want INEC to ensure that next Saturday does not end in the same way.
INEC`s Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu had after a meeting on Friday night announced a review of the election and the decision of the Commission to postpone the Presidential and Legislative election to 23rd February, while, the Governorship and State Assembly, as well as FCT council election is reviewed to 9th March, 2019.
Commenting on the postponement, Sabo Ibrahim, one of the hundreds of voters, who are disappointed with the happening in the Polling Centre situated at Ginginyu Special Primary School, in the metropolis, said the postponement does not speak well for our democracy.
“I learnt of the postponement in the early hours of Friday, initially I taught it is fake news, but later I found out that it was true. To me this is not a good development for our democracy, but the consolation was that this is not the first time that election is been postponed in the country.
“There is nothing we can do about the situation. INEC talked about logistics challenge; so based on this, I accept their decision, but they must make sure they are better prepared next Saturday,” he pleaded.
In the same vein, Victor M. Akure, Lead Pastor, Turning Point Faith Arena (Halleluyah Assembly), who came to Kano from Abuja for the purpose of casting his vote, said the postponement is an indication that Nigeria`s democracy is still a work in progress.
Akure charged Nigerians to bear with INEC, and be prepared to come out next Saturday to participate in the election because of the importance of the exercise to the nation.
“As a Christian, I believe whatever happens is for good, and the situation we have at hand is not different. We must have faith in God and a positive outcome of the election, believing that it is for the good of the country.
“Although the economic loses of the postponement is huge, I am calling on Nigerians not to be afraid in participating in the election, we are sure that all this would end well for us as a people,” he said.
ActionAid urges police to secure election materials
…says unhappy about postponed election
Victoria Nnakaike, Lokoja
ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) has expressed displeasure at the postponement of the 2019 General Elections, a decision made public a few hours to the kick-off of the event.
Acknowledging the efforts of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in taking necessary steps to deliver a democratic election, ActionAid expressed concerns on how INEC has managed the situation.
Ene Obi, Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, speaking on the postponement said, “Postponing elections is becoming a recurring decimal in Nigeria. Looking at the trend from 2011, 2015 and now 2019, we expect that INEC would have used their learning from those experiences and not have it occur again.
“Election is about trust and we fear that the mismanagement or miscommunication on the part of INEC can degenerate to a trust issue between the commission and the citizens”.
The implication of the late postponement of the election on the economics of citizens, security, education and the reputation of the country is monumental.
“The many questions INEC needs to answer quickly to restore the confidence in the citizenry include; steps the commission is taking to secure the integrity of the ballot? What happens to those ballot papers that were already sent to different polling stations? how can we guarantee the quality of the process going forward and ensure that this does not happen again?
“The 2019 General election is a four-year project which started since 2015 and what has transpired within the last few hours is a clear indication that it is time to rethink our electoral process and adopt procedures that are cost effective, efficient and decentralised. This also reinforces the need for us to strengthen our institutions, especially INEC.”
ActionAid Nigeria called on stakeholders to be proactive with the electoral process and desist from taking citizens for granted, while demanding that INEC provide a detailed reason for the postponement of the elections and proactively deploy all the necessary electoral material to the various destinations before Friday February 22.
It added that the Inspector-General of Police should deploy security personnel to protect the INEC facilities across the country because security of both lives and ballot materials are vital for credible polls.
Election postponement: CISLAC flays INEC, demands urgent investigation
By Innocent Odoh
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has condemned the sudden postponement of general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) few hours to the Presidential elections and National Assembly elections.
The Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani expressed his disappointment in a statement on Saturday stressing that CISLAC is disturbed by the reported poor preparatory processes by the Electoral Body that disproportionately hampered adequate deployment of electoral materials to many parts of the country with resultant postponement.
“We condemn such abrupt decision informed by deliberate abuse of independent power that may discredit subsequent position by the Commission as an “Independent Body” before national and international observers.
“We are not unaware of systemic conflict of interests and questionable procurement process imbibed by the various positions in the Commission creating tendency for mutual sabotage among the three (3) levels of appointees—National Commissioners, RECs and appointed relatives to the Directors in various Departments.
“We are concerned by the wastages and losses the postponement would have caused the country, civil society and international community that have committed whopping financial and human resources to the deployment and observation missions to ensure free, fair and credible elections that will be acceptable to all,” the statement said.
The CISLAC boss also bemoaned that given large presence of youth deployment for anchoring electoral processes and international electoral observation missions across the country, such abrupt postponement was a huge setback to the nation’s democracy which may breed electoral apathy and distrust at all levels.
“With the new electoral dates, giving the space of a week extension, we are as well worried for the safety and integrity and security of elections materials which have been disseminated across the country,” the statement said.
CISLAC also called on the National Assembly to as a matter of urgency constitute an ad hoc Committee to investigate the sudden postponement to clear the Commission of public doubt that her decision was not informed by desperate desires of unjust individuals or groups who want to assume or sustain power by all illegitimate means.
The civil society organisation also demanded adequate security for both materials and human resources deployed by the Commission so far to the field to avert susceptibility to violations and attacks by unpatriotic individuals or groups across the country.
“We call on the Commission to tender unreserved apologies to Nigerian and international observers, who are committed their time, presence and financial resources to monitor the electoral process with assurance that elections would hold as earlier scheduled. These apologies must also be rendered to Nigerian voters who have invested time and resources to sacrifice the day for them to discharge their civic responsibility.
“We demand immediate assurances by the Commission that the new electoral date—February 23rd is certain, and the distributed sensitive materials will be kept under appropriate supervision and security till the new date.
“We further encourage civil society groups, media, national and international observation missions to sustain surveillance on the electoral process to promote free, fair and credible elections that will be acceptable to all,” the statement said.
It is postponement of evil day for APC; celebration day for PDP – Melaye
By: Victoria Nnakaike, Lokoja
Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West senatorial district of Kogi State, has said that the postponement of the elections was the postponement of evil day for All Progressives Congress (APC) and postponement of celebration for the PDP.
According to Melaye who is equally seeking for another tenure on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), said if the election is postponed 100 times, it was certain that Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the PDP, will win the presidency and he will also win the Senate. He also appealed to his supporters not to be wary of the development.
Speaking with newsmen on Friday after a stakeholders’ meeting at the former Governor Ibrahim Idris’ house where it was said that masked policemen surrounded the house of Ibrahim Idris, Melaye claimed that the attackers were actually police men who came from the Government House Lokoja that allegedly wanted to kill him (Melaye).
He said although there were other PDP stalwarts namely Tunde Ogbeha, Senator Saliu Ogembe, AVM Saliu Atawodi, among others that passed through the gate of Government House at that time, he was actually the target of the attack.
He said the tyre of his G-wagon car and two other vehicles were seriously hit by the bullets but thanked God that there was no casualty.
“By now I would have been dead if I was not in a bullet proof vehicle, but I thank God Almighty because their evil plan has failed again,” Melaye said.
Kaduna residents unhappy about postponement
By: Waheed Adubi, Kaduna
Residents of Kaduna State have expressed displeasure over the postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections earlier scheduled for February 16, 2019.
Our reporter who monitored the situation in Kaduna reports that majority of the shops in the metropolis were under lock and key, as Kaduna became a shadow of itself, making business activities to suffer losses.
As at the time of filling this report, residents were seeing sitting in groups lamenting the negative effects of the postponement on their economic activities.
A business centre operator, Charity Paul who spoke to our correspondent in Kaduna said business activities had been at low key, noting that her losses are enormous.
Speaking on her readiness to vote, she says: “Despite the postponement, I am not demoralised to cast my vote for the candidates of my choice come February 23, and March 9, 2019”.
Roads were deserted as vehicular movements were minimal, forcing the few residents who came out to trek long distance, especially those who had earlier travelled to cast vote in their respective polling centres.
A stranded commuter, who those not want her name appears on print said the decision was wicked.
“I left my house for my polling unit as early as 5:45 this morning in order to exercise my constitutional right but getting to the pooling unit I was told by somebody during our engagement on how the election may look like. The decision to shift the election could be best described as wickedness”, he said.
Frowning at the development, the National Secretary of Action Party of Nigeria (APN), Shuibu Salisu Dawaki, said the postponement was a national embarrassment and a technical way of rigging the elections.
In his opinion, a legal practitioner, Wahab Page, noted that the postponement is a manifestation of incompetence on the part of the INEC.
“This is the same INEC that assured Nigerians couple of days ago that the commission was ready to conduct free, fair and credible elections. The Commission owes Nigerians an apology”, he emphasised.
On a contrary view, a veteran Journalist, Tajudeen Tijanni Ajibade said the postponement could be in the interest of Nigerians, saying that the commission has the constitutional right to shift elections to ensure that the exercise is free, fair and credible.
By: IDRIS UMAR MOMOH /CHURCHILL OKORO, BENIN
In Edo State, members of the political class such as Peter Esele, former, national president of Trade Union Congress, Dan Orbih, Edo state chairman of PDP and Johnson Abolagba , PDP candidate for Owan federal constituency in their reactions described the postponement as unfortunate and unhealthy for democracy.
The respondents who spoke in a telephone interviews with BDSUNDAY, however, appealed to the electorate to remain focus and determine to entrench a new vistas of political change with their permanent voters’ card.
In his reaction, Peter Esele described the action of INEC as sad development. He however urged Nigerians not to sacrifice the institution for the action of an individual.
According to him, it is a sad development. We must learn to separate the institution from an individual. The staff of INEC may have let us down but let us not sacrifice the institution (INEC) for it.
He urged the people not to be demoralised by the postponement, and should go and cast their votes for their preferred candidates in the next schedule dates.
“If the one week postponement will guarantee us free, fair and credible elections let us endeavour to sacrifice the day,” he said.
On his part, Johnson Abolagba, PDP candidate for Owan federal constituency, noted that the postponement was enough testimony for Nigerians that the APC-led Federal Government has failed the people in all ramifications.
Abolagba, who said, he was not surprised with the postponement urged the right thinking Nigeria electorate to use the next week elections to vote out APC out of power.
This is a government that will never fulfill its promise. They promised you one thing but do the opposite. I will also not be surprised that in the next Saturday, INEC will still not be able to conduct the election.
“Nigerians are hungry, angry and dying. They should in the next Saturday and March 9, use their PVCs to vote APC out of government”, he stated.
Dan Orbih, the state chairman of PDP, who accused INEC of conniving with the Federal Government to postpone the elections, however, urged Mahmood Yakubu, the national chairman of INEC to immediately tender his resignation letter for disappointing over 84 million eligible voters and over 100 million Nigerian population.
Orbih opined that the action of the commission was wastage of billions of naira approved for it for the conduct of the elections.
The PDP, chairman, who however, added that the federal government and INEC only postponed the evil days by the postponement of the elections expressed optimism that the party’s presidential candidate, Abubakar Atiku will come out victorious in the election.
Election postponement casts doubts on INEC’s credibility, says Situation Room
By: OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has said the postponement of the General Elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cast a doubt on the credibility and competence of the electoral body in conducting free, fair and credible exercise.
Equally, it said the postponement has imposed unforeseen financial and logistics burden on political parties, candidates, businesses and Nigerians in general.
Clement Nwankwo, Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) and Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, stated this at a press conference in Abuja on Saturday while reacting to the postponement of the general election by the electoral body.
Nwankwo also condemned the plight of corps members who were supposed to serve as adhoc staff but were left sleeping in open fields without security.
He also wondered why the commission gave false hope to Nigerians that it was ready to conduct the exercise.
The development, according to him, has created needless tension and confusion in the country.
He said: “INEC has a duty to be honest and transparent with Nigerians in the conduct of elections. That duty of honesty has been fundamentally breached.
“The Situation Room calls on INEC to immediately provide clear explanation to Nigerians and stakeholders on what went wrong and steps to be taken to ensure that this does not happen again. INEC must inform Nigerians what steps it is taking to hold persons responsible for this fiasco to account. INEC has an onerous task of reassuring Nigerians in the light of these unfortunate events especially with respect to transparency of polls, collation and enforcement of rules.
“The Commission needs to explain to Nigerians how they are able to address the extra financial and logistics burden that this has occasioned. Also the management and integrity of already distributed materials is key. INEC will need to explain how it will do this”.
He also called on stakeholders to refrain from unguarded statements so as not to heat up the polity, even as he urged eligible voters not to be deterred but to come out and cast their votes on the rescheduled dates.
In the early hours of Saturday, INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, announced the shift in the date of the Presidential and National Assembly elections from February 16 to 23 as well as the governorship and state assembly elections from March 2 to 9 due to logistics reasons.
BusinessDay reports that this is the third consecutive time that the nation’s General Elections would be postponed.
In 2011, then INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, a professor, announced the postponement of the polls due to logistics challenges.
Similarly, in 2015, the Jega-led INEC also postponed the general elections for security reasons.
APC only delaying the evil day against them – Ortom
By: BENJAMIN AGESAN, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom has stated that the All Progressives Congress (APC), is only delaying the evil day against them by using the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The governor, who spoke in Makurdi while reacting to the postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections by the umpire said whether they shift it to any date, Benue people and Nigerians would still reject them at the polls.
He stated that the postponement was planned as evidenced in the statement credited to the leader of the APC in the state, Senator George Akume that they would cause the election to be postponed and write results.
Ortom described the development as unfortunate, saying for the INEC to postpone the election it took more than three years to plan, few hours to the commencement of voting when people had travelled from far places to exercise their franchise was a rape of democracy.
He stated that the action was a grand plan by the APC-led Federal Government to rig the election, noting however, that Benue State and North Central in general was vigilant and would not allow any form of rigging during the polls.
Governor Ortom stated that the people of North Central Zone are prepared for a free, fair, credible and transparent election that would usher in leaders who will anchor the Nigerian democracy based on the rule of law compared to the APC where there is no regard for the rule of law.
He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to remember the words of the late elder statesman, Maitama Sule who told him when he went to congratulate him on his victory in 2015 that he should ensure his leadership was anchored on the rule of law, truthfulness and integrity where the interest of Nigerians would be protected far and above personal interest.