The recent postponement
of the 2015 general elections to March 28 and April 11 from the initial February 14 and 28 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has no doubt attracted mixed reactions across the country.
In fact, since the penultimate week’s postponement, reactions have not ceased: till date, more reactions have continued to emerge from various individuals, groups political parties, etc.
In the face of these reactions, however, two phenomena are easily identifiable: the one party blaming a perceived opposition for the postponement; and emphasis on the need for all and sundry, particularly those who believe on the same goal, to remain calm in the face of what they term deliberate intent to cause problem in the polity.
There had been accusations and counter-accusations, name-calling and pointing of fingers to various directions to the point that the question of who is afraid of holding the 2015 polls has become inevitable. All of these have mostly circled around the key actors the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and the main opposition, All Progressives Congress (APC).
In spite of assurances given be INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, on holding the elections, as stipulated by the body’s programme over a year ago, on February 14 and 28, and amidst speculations of a possible shift, the first noticeable hint of a shift came from the PDP, as alleged by the opposition.
According to the opposition, the PDP-led Federal Government started the process by first putting Jega under intense pressure. The physical manifestation of this pressure, they alleged, came through Chief Edwin Clark, a First Republic politician regarded as President Jonathan’s Godfather.
Clark, they recalled, had called for Jega’s resignation some weeks earlier over allegations of the INEC boss having been acting the script of the APC. He was send to be backed by such key figures as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, and the Director of Media and Publicity for the President Goodluck Jonathan Campaign team, Femi Fani-Kayode.
Metuh was quoted in a statement to have alleged that “The party (PDP) had received overwhelming evidence from citizens in APC states following its earlier alarm that non-indigenes who form the bulk of PDP supporters in Lagos were being denied their PVCs”.
The PDP further alleged that in addition to Lagos, the same thing also applied to other APC-controlled states, including Kano.
While debunking these allegations, APC’s National Public Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said in a statement, “it is shameful that those who should be working hard to promote peaceful elections as secheduled are the same ones doing everything possible to trigger violence.
“Those who should ordinarily be seen as elder statesmen have degenerated to dangerous partisans and shameless promoters of a narrow, parochial interest at the expense of the national interest,” he said.
When the election was finally postponed on reasons of insecurity and logistics the national leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, was quoted as saying that the postponement was not due to the reasons given by INEC.
According to Tinubu, “what happended on Saturday was actually not a postponement due to security or logistics reasons. What happened was the by-product of over political interference undermining the independence of the election management body. INEC.
“The elections were postponed not because they could not safely be held. They were postponed because one man, President Goodluck Jonathan, feared that an election held in February would for him become an election lost,” hence “while the month was (that of) Jega, the words were (that of) Jonathan,” he said.
In his reaction, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, said the May 29 hand-over date of the PDP-led Federal Government to the APC cannot be postponed.
Speaking while receiving some defectors from the PDP in Benin City, Oshiomhole said, “you heard what happened. They said they have postponed the elections. Few days back, they called us for a meeting at the council of state and we said they should go ahead and do the election.
“In any event, we are not the only country with security challenges. Even election is held in Afghanistan and Iraq so, whether they postpone the election or not, we won’t fight. They can’t postpone Christmas.
“They can postpone the election, but they cannot postpone May 29 handover date. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Don’t fight, make peace, we will use the remaining six weeks to mobilise more, pull out more people from the PDP so that Edo State will be 100% for APC”, he said.
The International Community also had things to say about the postponement: while the government of the United Kingdom (UK) declared the postponement as being wrong, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) called on all political actors to respect the decision by INEC and accept it in good faith.
The UK’s Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, in a statement, noted that the decision by the INEC to postpone the election was a cause for concern.
“The Nigerian people have the right to credible, peaceful and transparent elections. There should be no further delay in delivering democracy and I urge all to remain calm during this period of frustration,” he said.
Hammond continued that while the UK supports Nigeria “in its struggle against terrorism, the security situation should not be used as a reason for denying the Nigerian people from exercising their democratic rights.
“It is vital that the elections are kept on track and held as soon as possible in accordance with international norms,” he said.
While noting the concerns and disappointments of Nigerians and all other stakeholders occasioned by the postponement, the ECOWAS urged all political actors to respect INEC’s decision.
The regional body used the opportunity to call on the Nigerian security services to be dedicated towards restoring normalcy in the North-Eastern part of the country.
It also encouraged the electoral body to take advantage of the postponement to complete all pre-election arraignments, particularly the distribution of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs), in order to ensure free and credible elections, while also encouraging political stakeholders to refrain from utterances that may incite their supporters or opponents to violence.
The opposition also expressed fear of what they hinted could culminate into a constitutional crisis. National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun clearly captured this stance in a media briefing in Abuja.
According to him, “it is important to note that the Service Chiefs letter to INEC demand postponement for ‘at least’ six weeks. This, we must note, is a body trap. Embed in that phrase ‘ ‘at least’ is a window to push for another postponement.
“It is clear, however, that any further postponement can only lead to a constitutional crisis. The constitution demands at least 30 days before the handover date of May 29, we have strong suspicions, but hope this postponement is not part of an agenda to create, a constitutional crisis in the country. We are just recently recovering from the crisis precipitated by the political crisis of 1993. We can’t afford aother,” he said.
In spite of the seeming convention of the opposition that the postponement of the elections from the earlier scheduled February 14 and 28 to March 28 and April 11, is a ploy for the PDP to want ample time to catch up with the popularity of the APC, the PDP also allege that the postponement is to prevent an imminent crisis APC was planning as a back-up plan to excuse its non-acceptance by the populace.
The Ekiti State chapter of the PDP stated unequivocally that “the postponement of the general elections has saved the nation from monumental electoral crisis that would have trailed the outcome if the election were to be conducted as earlier scheduled.”
A statement by the secretary of the state PDP, Dr. Tope Aluko, stated that “the outcome of the election would have been sarcastically embroiled in an unprecedented crisis by the time the APC looses out.
“The opposition APC would have incited almajiri’s and their likes in other parts of the country that president Jonathan had deliberately disenfranchised voters in the North Eastern States, where they claimed is their stronghold, to facilitate their failure in the election.
“The APC had chosen this as their back-up strategy to destabilise the country after the election, which they knew many not be won by their candidate, General Mohamadu Buhari”, he said.
Dr Aluko stated further that “although the leadership of the APC is armed with the field report that even in Borno State, PDP can spring surprises because of the popularity of PDP leaders there, they still wanted the election to proceed in order to actualise their plans of causing national disaster.”
Advising the country’s security agencies ahead of the new dates for the elections, a body of prominent Nigerian’s under the aegis of “The Patriots” urged security agencies to be politically neutral in the discharged of their duties during and after the 2015 elections.
While addressing the media after a meeting attended by the members at of the FRA Williams Chambers in Lagos, the chairman and foremost Nigerian Constitutional lawyer, Professor Ben Nwabueze, said the body supports the decision to shift the election date for security reasons.
“We’ve studied the reason cited by the INEC. When you give security reasons, it is not easy for you if you are not knowledgeable about security to say no.
“When they said they needed time to strengthen the security, it is only a foolish chairman that would say they’re saying rubbish. There is also the issue of preparedness of INEC to provide all that is needed. So, it makes sense to postpone election,” he said.
In all of the claims and counter claims, allegations and counter allegations and the sort on the postponement of the elections, all parties involved seem to be more bothered about countering whatever stance the opposition takes than considering the key issues raised.
These positions taken do not seem to be far from the fact that all political players one way or the other understands themselves, and know the capabilities or otherwise of the other, backed by what they seem to inadvertently, picture as an unreliable political system incapacitated by a constitution that can be taken for granted by anyone privileged to do so.
The implication is that all concerned acknowledge that the constitution as it is currently can be exploited at will and little can be done about, hence it can be not be trusted, even as it is widely quoted.
Thus if all the parties concerned really care for Nigeria as true patriots, perhaps, one major exposition of events related to the 2015 general elections is the fact that Nigeria is in dare need of a system that could really be trusted.
CAN Accuses El-Rufai Of Hidden Agenda
The Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has accused Governor Nasir El-Rufai of engaging in politics with civil servants and residents of the state.
This was contained in a statement issued on Tuesday by the state chairman of CAN, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, in the aftermath of the pronouncement of a four-day work week by the governor.
El-Rufai had said the state government would begin implementing the transitional arrangement in the public service starting from December 1, 2021.
However, the CAN Chairman urged caution, stating that the citizens of the state had been subjected to pains by this government through some of its unpopular policies.
He advised civil servants in the state not to celebrate the policy yet until they were convinced that there was no hidden agenda behind it.
“Workers must be sure that the policy is not aimed at reducing their salaries.
“They must be convinced that the government will not wake up one day with another shocking news of salary reduction since the five working days have been reduced to four.”
“How can a state that is not secured talk about giving workers time for agriculture and be with family when bandits move about freely, terrorising people in their homes, on the farms, and on the highways!
“How can one spend time with family when you have nothing to feed them or provide for their basic needs?” he said.
Meagre Allocation Stalls Adamawa LG Polls
The Adamawa State Independent Electoral Commission (ADSIEC) has postponed the December 4 local government council polls indefinitely due to lack of funds.
ADSIEC Information Officer, Innocent Daniel, said on Monday that the commission was awaiting funds from the government to conduct a free, fair and transparent election.
“Among the major challenges that led to the postponement of the election was the meagre allocation to the commission in the state’s 2021 budget.
“The allocation is too meagre for the commission to organise and conduct the election.
“Also, the re-usable election materials such as ballot boxes, duty vests, bags and kits were completely vandalised during the #Endsars protest,” he said.
The Information officer said that the commission was also faced with the problem of handling the new polling units that were converted from voting points by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He said that the conversion had raised the polling units in the state from 2,609 to 4,104.
“This development will lead to an increase in facilities and ad hoc staff. The ongoing registration of new voters will also have a resultant increase in ballot paper requirements.
“It is in this regard that the preparations for the local government council election for December 4, is hereby suspended to give the government time to source for funds,” Mr Daniel said.
2023: Northern Youths Urge Old Politicians To Steer Clear
Politicians above 60 years of age have been urged to stay away from the presidential race come 2023.
The appeal was made by the leadership of the Concerned Northern Youth Forum (CNYF) in Kaduna yesterday.
They argued that in developed nations, people of that age and experience were mostly engaged in charitable activities, free consultancy services and other forms of selfless services.
The spokesman of the group, Comrade Abdulsalam Moh’d Kazeem, called on youths to take advantage of the “not too young to rule” to participate actively in the political arena.
Also, a north-based group has tasked Nigerian youths to join politics to free the country of bad governance.
Coordinator of the group, National Youth Movement for Good Governance, Nasiru Aliyu, who disclosed this at a news briefing in Kaduna, said Nigeria requires young hands that can work assiduously to address its developmental challenges.
Meanwhile, some stakeholders in the North Central zone and bigwigs of the PDP in the region, have thrown their weight behind the candidature of Bukola Saraki in the 2023 presidency.
The group, led by Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, stated this on Monday during the advocacy committee meeting for Saraki with party members and delegations from across the zone at the Nasarawa State party secretariat in Lafia.
An associate of Saraki, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, urged the party to consider Saraki as its presidential candidate for 2023 to salvage the country from total collapse.
Also, the campaign team of a former presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Monday met with the party’s officials and stakeholders from the three senatorial districts of Benue State over the 2023 general elections.
The leader of the team, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, said they were in Benue as forerunners of Atiku to consult with the elders of the PDP in the state and ask them for support for their principal who will be contesting the presidential poll in 2023.
Similarly, a support group, Tinubu Legacy Forum (TLF), has said the national leader of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is not too old to contest the presidency.
While 69-year-old Tinubu has not formally declared his presidential interest, his recent visitations and series of support groups, rooting for him, show his interest in contesting the 2023 presidency, probably under the APC.
Addressing newsmen on Monday in Abuja, the Coordinator, TLF, FCT Chapter, Barrister Abdullahi Awwal Muhammad, said Tinubu was not too old to contest for the presidency.
In Lagos, a Yoruba group yesterday endorsed the former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha as the next president. The group, under the aegis of Oduduwa Sons and Daughters for Equity and Justice, declared that the Yoruba people have decided to support a South-Easterner as successor to President Muhammadu Buhari.
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