President Muhammadu Buhari has reacted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC’s) postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections earlier scheduled to hold Saturday 16th to Saturday 23rd February, expressing deep disappointment about the development within hours of its scheduled commencement, despite what he described as the long notice given and the nation’s preparations both locally and internationally,
The President who is also a contestant for the nation’s top political office, disclosed this in a statement released by his media aide, Garba Shehu on Saturday in Daura, Katsina as he lamented that many Nigerians have traveled to various locations to exercise their right to vote, international observers gathered and INEC themselves had given assurances, day after day and almost hour after hour that they are in complete readiness for the elections, with all citizens believing them.
He stressed that his administration has ensured that it did not interfere in any way with the work of INEC except to ensure that all funds were released to the commission, while urging “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,” the statement read.
In a related development, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council has condemned what he described as tardiness of the electoral umpire in the strongest terms possible, noting that its teeming supporters nationwide and around the world, came into the country to exercise their franchise.
According to a statement by the Director, Strategic Communications of the APC PCC, Festus Keyamo, President Muhammadu Buhari had since cooperated fully with INEC by ensuring EVERYTHING it demanded to conduct free and fair elections were promptly made available to it, noting that its hope is that INEC will remain neutral and impartial in the process as the “rumour mill is agog with the suggestion that this postponement has been orchestrated in collusion with the main opposition, the PDP, that was NEVER ready for this election.”
“It did the same as the ruling Party in 2015, when it realized the game was up, by orchestrating the postponement of the 2015 elections by six weeks. Now, it may be up to its old trick again. We have earlier raised the alarm that the PDP is bent on discrediting this process the moment it realized it cannot make up the numbers to win this election.
We are only urging INEC not collude with the PDP on this. We are truly worried because as early as Friday morning, some known PDP Social Media influencers unwittingly announced this postponement, but quickly deleted the message and apologized to the public that it was fake news,” the statement read.
It stressed that all the major credible demographic projections have predicted a defeat of the PDP and it seriously needed this breather to orchestrate more devious strategies to try and halt President Buhari’s momentum, urging INEC not to collude with the PDP on this and appealing to Nigerians and his supporters to be patient, calm and resolute despite the temporary setback.
“We do not want to be forced to a situation of announcing our total loss of confidence in INEC, because we know where that would leave our democracy.”
“Lastly, we wish to draw the attention of INEC and the world to observe that the PDP has clearly and openly said it plans to announce parallel results through some funny device it has procured or developed We wish to reiterate that it is ONLY INEC that is legally and constitutionally empowered to declare results and it constitutes an offence for anyone to do so,” the statement added.