The elections earlier slated for February 14 and 28 have now been rescheduled for March 28th and April 11th.
INEC on Saturday met with all 36 Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and representatives of political parties and reached an agreement to postpone the elections. Afterwards, INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega announced the decision.
Some of the variables considered for the postponement was that over 20 million registered voters have not gotten their PVCs but the major reason according to Jega was the notification from the Nigerian Army that it cannot guarantee security should the election hold on February 14.
“Last Wednesday, which was a day before the Council of State meeting, the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) wrote a letter to the Commission, drawing attention to recent developments in four Northeast states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe currently experiencing the challenge of insurgency. The letter stated that security could not be guaranteed during the proposed period in February for the general elections,” Jega said.
Reactions have since trailed the postponement of the general elections by INEC. Some have termed the postponement a ploy to favour the ruling party, PDP. APC’s presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari reacting to the postponement questioned the integrity of INEC.
According to him, “The PDP administration has now engineered a postponement using the threat that security will not be guaranteed across the length and breadth of Nigeria because of military engagement in some states in the north-east. It is important to note that although INEC acted within its constitutional powers, it is clear that it has been boxed into a situation where it has had to bow to pressure. Thus, the independence of INEC has been gravely compromised.”
The United States has also expressed disappointment over the postponement and some are of the opinion that insecurity in 14 local governments should not have warranted the postponement of the elections. Another school of thought led by prominent human right lawyer, Femi Falana, hold that the postponement is a coup against the Nigerian constitution. “By causing the election to be postponed, the NSA and the security chiefs have staged a coup against the Constitution. They are liable to be prosecuted for the grave offence of treason at the appropriate time,” Falana said.
Going by recent happenings and reasons given by INEC, was the commission right to have postponed the elections?