The presidency in Nigeria has asked members of the the opposition All Progressives Congress to tell Nigerians what dangers the election postponement portends to the electoral process or the Nigerian electorate.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Friday, the Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said that the government had no right to force the electoral body to change the date of the election, addressing insinuations that the presidency was pushing for the postponement of the elections.
His statement was against the backdrop of calls for the elections to be held on the 14 and 28 of February as scheduled.
“The Federal Government is not exerting pressure on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to shift the election dates,” he said.
According to him, the government was only asking the electoral umpire to ensure that all eligible voters got their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) before the election.
The members of the APC had stressed the need for the elections to be conducted on the set days, saying that a shift would make Nigerians lose confidence in the process.
But Dr. Okupe said that the President could not in good conscience endorse an electoral arrangement where people from a section of the country would be excluded from the electoral process due to no fault of theirs or by virtue of just being unfortunate residents of an area under siege of terrorism.
Ready To Conduct Elections
The INEC had set a deadline of February 8 for the collection of the PVC, but as at February 5, data available showed that out of the 68.8 million registered voters only 66.3 million cards have been printed and delivered.
At a Council of State meeting on Thursday, the INEC gave the assurance that the presidential election would hold on February 14 as scheduled.
INEC told the National Council of State that it was ready to conduct the February elections, despite the distribution of the PVC that electorates said was slow.
The Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko and his Imo State counterpart, Rochas Okorocha, told reporters after the meeting that the INEC assured the council of its readiness to conduct the February elections and that the distribution of the Permanent Voter Cards was going well.
Two days to the deadline of the PVC distribution, some electorates in Lagos are yet to receive their PVC, with many of them expressing frustration with the process.
INEC said it would achieve at least 85 per cent distribution before the election date, but as at February 5 only 45.09 million PVC have been distributed, representing 65.8% of registered voters.
Dr. Okupe’s statement was also made to clear the Federal Government of any accusation of trying to persuade the INEC to postpone the election.