Saturday, around 2 am Nigerians were rudely awoken to the grim announcement by Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to the effect that the Presidential and National Assembly elections that were slated to hold that morning had been cancelled, citing logistics and operational plans hiccups as reasons.
For this newspaper, this is the unkindest cut from the electoral umpire in a long list of its “sins” in the current dispensation. It is our considered view that this act is not only a time-worn rehash of the Jonathan years, but a direct affront to Nigerians and a deliberate provocation, which intent is not known, but whatever it may be, is not in the best interest of the country.
It is bad that a government that lays claims to be correctional has found pleasure in repeating the incompetence of the previous administration in postponing elections. The election that brought Buhari to power was postponed,but Jonathan administration did not assault the intelligence of Nigerians by announcing the postponement on the day of the elections.
The political class as well as electoral umpire is yet to learn from the past.
There seems to be a gradual retrogression in public life but the tragedy of this is that the people have been weaned in culture of ignorance and submission that it has become part of our life to accept officialdom no matter how ludicrous. In this current insult, Nigerians would sigh, whine in the comfort of their home, and remain divided over the import and implications.
This administration had enough time to prepare for the elections, work out all the process, and there was no reason tenable enough for the postponement. What this has done is to showcase the incompetence of the electoral umpire, and the Buhari administration to conduct a clean election, in spite of all its claims to the contrary.
But beyond the glaring capacity issues of this administration to conduct a simple act as election lies some portentous, dark motives, which can only be interpreted as self -serving and booby traps against democracy. As it stands, the postponement is an attempt to mock Nigerians,and ridicule the people’s desire for a credible democracy and enthronement of the will of the people.
There had been premonitory signs of the postponement. Earlier, the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Malami had canvassed for it, but the voice of the rights activists and some Nigerians was strident in condemning the call.
Earlier, the former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, had alerted Nigerians to what he called plan to postpone the elections by one week, and it is instructive that it has come to pass. It would seem the postponement was a predetermined political move as alleged by Fayose.
The administration has, by this single act secured a “hallowed” place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first to postpone an election on the day it was billed to take place. For an administration that always claims moral high grounds- though this has been disputed by events in the course of its three-year management of our affairs – the postponement is an indictment.
The burning of INEC offices in Abia, Anambra and Plateau states, which was mentioned as added reason for the postponement looks suspicious as the growing insecurity in the land, which has suddenly reached a fever pitch in the weeks close to the elections.
The disruptions and harm the postponement have caused the economy, individuals and groups as well as institutions both public and private cannot be quantified.
There is a need for INEC to display greater transparency and neutrality in the whole process. This administration should learn from history by avoiding all the theatrics of the past and allow for a free and fair elections shorn of manipulation and power show. The whole of international community is watching.
It is instructive that politicians are only true to themselves and remain cynical about the progress of the country. In the heat of the postponement in 2015, candidate Buhari was quoted as saying in the face of BOKO HARAM attacks, the election should go on, and was very vociferous in his opposition to postponement. We call on INEC to remain neutral and should not be dragged into partisanship.