No plans to shift elections, says INEC
• Allays fears over rigging, others• APC, others fault Dasuki’s alleged call for polls shift, NSA denies claims• Again, PDP faults Buhari’s certificate
AGAINST the backdrop of yesterday’s alleged call by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), for postponement of next month’s elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it would not shift the polls.
But in a swift reaction, the NSA denied seeking the postponement in his London speech, just as the All Progressives Congress (APC) Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar rejected his alleged call.
INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega, has also assured that there would not be malpractices during the February polls.
Jega, who stated this yesterday in Abuja at the 12th Daily Trust Dialogue, through a Commissioner of the Commission, Dr. Chris Eyimoga, declared that electorates must vote with their PVCs, adding that card readers would be deployed to verify true ownership of cards before voting.
The commission insisted that it was working in progress ahead of a peaceful conduct of the elections in line with the international standards that would be required from any election management body.
Reacting on the alleged call for the shift of the elections, INEC yesterday noted that it had not received any communication to that effect, stressing that it was putting finishing touches to its preparations for the election.
Former vice presidential candidate of the defunct Congress For Progressives Change (CPC), Pastor Tunde Bakare, and the Governor of Adamawa State, Bala James Ngilari, had earlier sought the postponement of the elections.
Chief Press Secretary to INEC’s Chairman, Kayode Idowu, noted that the commission could not take any decision to postpone the planned election based on what it had read or heard from the media, adding that it had not received any communication to that effect.
He noted that the problem facing the election could not be said to be from the commission, noting that rather than encouraging voters to pick their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) which were lying at the commission’s offices at the various councils , people were busy blaming INEC of not meeting up with challenges of distribution of the PVCs.
“Yes we have heard the call by the NSA that the election should be postponed, but the commission has nothing to say or do in respect to that call since it is only coming from the media. For us at INEC, it is work in progressing as we are preoccupied right now with final preparations for the elections.
“The commission is very busy planning for the great task ahead and cannot listen take decisions based on statements from the media,” Idowu noted.
According to Jega, the era of ballot box snatching is over with the PVCs, as the election would be recorded to ensure that politicians who snatch ballot boxes would find them useless.
He was, however, quick to admit that the only problem facing the Commission was how to ensure speedy distribution of the cards, noting that the Commission was committed to the exercise and promised that the setback the Commission in previous elections were being worked on with a view to correcting them.
A former Chief of Army Staff, Nigerian Army, Lieutenant-General Abduraman Danbazau, who charged INEC to be neutral and allow popular candidates emerge in the 2015 polls, lamented that politicians were busy spending their money to establish private armies.
Danbazau added that the problem of insecurity in the Northeast had left many Nigerians into refugees in the country and were under the control of the insurgents.
Also, the INEC’s Director, Voter Education and Publicity, Osaze Uzzi has assured that the commission had made all plans to meet all contingencies that might arise during next month’s polls.
He disclosed this during a training session on voter education organised by the INEC for staff of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), in Abuja.
Uzzi further assured them that INEC was fully prepared to ensure credible, free and fair elections, just as he acquainted NOA staff with the preparedness and processes for the accreditation of voters.
APC, in a statement in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, noted that the call by Dasuki, during an event at the Chatham House in London yesterday had exposed the hitherto clandestine plot by the Jonathan administration to push for the postponement of the polls, using all sorts of “cheap tricks.”
Accusing the PDP-led administration of plotting to stage manage crisis in the polity to actualise the intent, the party remarked that excuses that INEC needed more time to distribute all PVCs, was untenable.
Enjoining the citizenry to resist the moves, the party warned that under no circumstance must the elections be scuttled.
It added: ‘’Now that we have found the smoking gun, we are urging the international community, in particular, to urgently extract a commitment from President Jonathan that the elections will hold as scheduled next month, and that he would respect the outcome, just as we have said,’’ it said.
APC said that Dasuki was only seeking to buy time for the slugging Jonathan electioneering campaign to gather steam by hinging his postponement call on the delay in PVC distribution, adding: “They know for sure that if they don’t postpone the elections, there is no way they can win. They are just terrified.”
The party also called on Nigerians to reject in its entirety the ongoing orchestrated plot by the Jonathan Administration to postpone the elections, saying the constitutional crisis that would be triggered by such postponement was capable of undermining the nation’s democracy.
‘’After realising that it will be rejected by Nigerians who have borne the brunt of its mis-governance over the years, after realising that its campaign of calumny against our presidential candidate has failed, the Jonathan Administration has now started to play its last card, which is the postponement of the election,’’ it said.
APC said that the importance of elections could not be over-emphasized, adding:”Election is the lifeblood of democracy, the mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates. It is the only way for the citizenry to renew and refresh the governing process, so they can get the most benefits out of democracy. Therefore, anyone that tries to sabotage this mechanism is aiming a dagger straight to the heart of democracy.”
The party accused the Jonathan Administration of using all tricks in the books to scuttle the forthcoming polls, including the plot to hide under the insurgency in the Northeast, the needless controversy over the secondary school leaving certificate of our presidential candidate, the concocted report by the DSS alleging a plan to hack into INEC’s database and the fabricated report of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s ill-health
‘’There are also alleged plans to stage-manage some high profile cases of violence and arson, for which the opposition will be blamed and then its leaders arrested in droves, all in an effort to scuttle the polls. For those who find these hard to believe, we ask them to look at the sheer madness of a state governor placing a newspaper advert wishing our presidential candidate dead! The possible repercussions of this kind of provocative act are better imagined, had our party not been a peaceful party.
‘’In view of the above, we have decided to take our case to Nigerians and indeed the global community, so they can prevail on President Jonathan to allow the elections to hold as scheduled and to make a commitment to respect the outcome,’’ it said.
The CSOs (Situation Room) described the call as “an unnecessary interference in the independence of INEC as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution”, stating, “dates for the elections can only be set by INEC.”
They called on the political parties and civic groups including religious organisations, labour unions, etc to mobilise citizens to pick up their PVCs in the centres designated by INEC
The Situation Room is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria and includes such groups as Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Enough is Enough Nigeria, Wangonet, Partners for Electoral Reform and Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA).
Others are Development Dynamics, Human Rights Monitor, Election Monitor, Reclaim Naija, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, CITAD, CISLAC and several other CSOs numbering more than 60
Situation Room called on INEC to put in place every measure to ensure unhindered and speedy distribution of any outstanding and uncollected PVCs. We continue to urge INEC to update the public on PVC distribution in states that have been most impacted by delays.
Atiku in a statement said that the general elections in the country should hold as scheduled next month and that government must not tinker with the option of postponing the timelines for the elections.
“Yes, we have a problem with the distribution of PVCs but the position of my party, the APC is that since we have a voters’ register then that should be used in conducting the elections. I also believe there is enough time between now and the elections to issue everyone with their PVCs,” Atiku said.