Home Cover Story Polls Shift: Nigerians accuse INEC of hidden agenda

Polls Shift: Nigerians accuse INEC of hidden agenda

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Prof. Yakubu Mahood, INEC Chairman
Prof. Yakubu Mahood, INEC Chairman

…as anger, frustration and disappointment trail postponement

– INEC was never ready for the polls – Musa
By UCHE CHRIS
Some notable Nigerians have come out openly to accuse the independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of pursuing unclear motive and hidden agenda by postponing the presidential election about five hours before the polls were slated to begin nationwide om Saturday February 16. They believed that INEC could not have suddenly realized its inadequate preparation for the conduct of the polls only hours to the polls.
They alleged that the opaque and disturbing explanation of INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, in calling off the election was far from the truth and therefore, unconvincing to any intelligent adult; and demanded that the commission come up with better explanation than what it has provided to regain the confidence of Nigerians.
Most Nigerians who were already primed for the election on Saturday February 16, 2019 were brutally surprised when they awoke that morning with the news of the postponement of the elections.
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Ebenezer Babatope described the rescheduling of the general elections as unfortunate. Reacting Babatope faulted INEC‘s explanation for the shift, saying it was not convincing. He said he believed that INEC had a different motive for rescheduling the elections.
The PDP Chieftain, a former Minister of Transport, said the Commission had always reiterated its readiness to conduct the polls, adding that it was disappointing the elections were shifted few hours to the commencement of the exercise.
 “INEC has questions to answer on the postponement. They owe Nigerians an explanation on the real reason for the shift.
“The explanation the Commission gave is not just convincing. You know there were challenges and you kept on saying, you are ready, you are ready.
“Just when Nigerians were about keeping a date with history with some travelling to their home states and villages to vote, you suddenly announced a shift on election eve.
Also the National Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem, questioned the motive of INEC in postponing the general elections.
“But how can INEC have logistics challenges when it had enough time to plan the elections? How can INEC have logistics challenges when the budget for the 2019 elections is the highest in the country since 1999?
“What’s really is the meaning of logistics in this context? Is it the inability to know the number of voters, voting units, their locations, the printing of elections materials, the transportation of same to the different locations?
“Can this be a reasonable excuse given the fact that INEC had more than enough time to carry out and execute all of these very ordinary very predictable responsibilities?
I believe that this decision has negatively advertised, exposed and de-marketed us as a nation. It has shown how irresponsible the managers of our nation at this moment are.
“It will be recalled that few days ago the news came online that the office of the NSA had issued an advice to the presidency to postpone the elections ostensibly to avert an impending defeat. Also thee rumour that the Attorney General had written to INEC to postpone the polls.
 “It is therefore impossible to separate the postponement of the elections under these questionable and unjustifiable circumstances barely 5 hours to the scheduled, from this fear of defeat.
“I am convinced Prof. Yakubu must have come under severe pressure from the presidency to embark on this most ignoble, noxious and most demeaning decision. This is more because it is most implacable and implausible for failure of logistics to sustain this postponement.
A lawmaker representing Rivers South East Senatorial district, Senator Magnus Abe, of the APC who is locked in  a supremacy struggle with another faction of the party led by Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, said INEC owed Nigerians a detailed explanation on its decision to postpone the elections.
 Abe said in Port Harcourt while reacting to the decision of the electoral commission to shift the national polls that there is little transparency in the way and manner the electoral body went about this business to instill confidence in it.
“Election should be free, fair and credible and it has become clear to INEC that with the logistic challenges they are facing it will be impossible to hold the elections.
 “But I believe that INEC owes Nigerians a clear explanation to why the country would have to be subjected to this kind of challenge.
“The personal plans, financial fallout’s of this kind of decision are going to affect things in a whole lot.
 “They (INEC officials) owe Nigerians a more detailed explanation about why this has to be done at this time,” Abe said, and  however, urged all Nigerians to remain steadfast in their belief in the country.
“I believe there is going to be a lot of positive development toward the postponement because it gives everybody time to prepare better.
 “I also use this opportunity to urge the Court of Appeal to immediately use this window to finish the outstanding issues in Rivers State so that we have a clearer idea of what exactly the situation in our state would be moving forward,” Abe said.
Former Kaduna State Governor, Balarabe Musa, on Saturday expressed disappointment over the postponement of the general elections and argued that INEC was never prepared for the exercise in the first place.
Alhaji Musa, told NAN in Kaduna on Saturday, that he was disappointed, but not surprised, at the development.
“I am not surprised because INEC was never ready for the exercise, given the level of its preparations,” he said. “INEC had serious funding challenges; what was appropriated to the commission by the National Assembly was not adequate and everyone knew it.
“We are not even sure if the approved amount was released to the electoral body by the Federal Government. The logistics and operational challenges are glaring. There are also serious security challenges that may affect the agency in the course of the elections.
“The security services are facing the same funding crises and most of them are living in fear. You can also see the serious challenges being faced by the Judiciary, who are supposed to play a major role in the election process,” Musa said.
“So, I must say that I am disappointed, but, again, as I said, I am not surprised.
“I hope that all the stakeholders will take the necessary measures to help INEC address the issues before Feb, 23, the new date for the Presidential polls, because the President can only hand over power to an elected person.”
How President Buhari, Atiku, others reacted
President Muhammadu Buhari has reacted to the postponement of the 2019 presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Buhari in a statement he personally signed, expressed disappointment over the development.
He said “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 elections 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 elections. We and all our citizens believed them.
 “This administration has ensured that we do not interfere in any way with the work of INEC except to ensure that all funds were released to the commission.
“We now urge INEC to ensure not only that materials already distributed are safe and do not get into wrong hands, but that everything is done to avoid the lapses that resulted in this unfortunate postponement, and ensure a free and fair election on the rescheduled dates.
“While I reaffirm my strong commitment to the independence, neutrality of the electoral umpire and the sanctity of the electoral process and ballot, I urge all political stakeholders and Nigerians to continue to rally round INEC at this trying national moment in our democratic journey.
 “I, therefore, appeal to all Nigerians to refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development.
“I have decided to move back to Abuja to ensure that the 14.00 hrs meeting called by INEC with all stakeholders is successful.”
Atiku
The Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has condemned the postponement of the general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) but said the development did not dampen his spirit.
 He urged Nigerians to be patient and endeavour to come out and vote on the new dates of the polls.
“I urge Nigerians to be patient and come out en masse to vote,” he said.
Atiku stated that he was on his way to Abuja for a PDP emergency meeting over the development, adding that he had no problem with voting materials already distributed for the election as long as they were kept in the “right and secure places”
 NANS
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) condemned the postponement of the general elections by the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC).
 Addressing a news conference in Abeokuta on Sunday, Spokesman of the association, Mr Azeez Adeyemi, said that the students would organise nationwide protest against the development on Monday.
He stated that the association was fully mobilised for the protest and that no attempt to stop it would succeed.
He described the situation as “show of shame and disgrace of a country”, adding that countries often learnt from their past, “but that it is not so with Nigeria”.
Adeyemi cautioned that the sovereignty of Nigeria should not be toyed with by selfish leaders, adding that the unity of the country should not be frustrated.
He stated that it was a shame and a bad signal to worldwide observers that the sincerity in the forthcoming elections was diminishing.
“The sovereignty of Nigeria should not be toyed with by any leader. Our forefathers fought for this; the unity of the nation should not be frustrated.
“Our position is that INEC chairman should resign. President Muhammadu Buhari should strengthen Nigeria’s security.
Prof Kingsley Moghalu
The Presidential candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YDP) Prof Kingsley Moghalu, has urged Nigerians to remain calm following the postponement of the general elections. Moghalu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday, that INEC’s postponement of the elections signposted the “recycling of failure under the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).”
He said the general elections were also postponed in 2015 under the PDP government, and that Nigerians should remain calm and resolute to vote for a new kind of leadership.
 Moghalu, who expressed disappointment over the development, described it as burdensome with serious implications.
“School children will now face further disruptions to the school calendar. Economic activities will suffer further setbacks.
“And Nigerians who have travelled to various parts of the country to vote or monitor the elections that would have held today now face logistical nightmares.