The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has come under fire following the postponement of the February 16 and March 2 general nigerian elections, stating that the idea of holding the elections is not a “feasible” venture.
This postponement has met stiff criticisms from all quarters. Given that INEC had about four years to prepare for such elections and calling for its postponement in less than 24 hours was not welcomed by many.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Monday alleged that INEC’s refusal to withhold and stagger the elections in Rivers, AkwaIbom, Lagos and Kwara States was the reason why the elections were postponed. Governor Wike claimed that he has it “on good authority” that the INEC chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu was under pressure from the Federal Government to postpone the elections, when efforts to stagger the election in those states failed.
With a clear indication that if the elections had proceeded on February 16 as planned, the All Progressive Congress-led government ordered INEC to set in the process of staggering the exercise by withholding elections in Rivers and other strategic states of the federation including AkwaIbom, Lagos and Kwara States.
“Resistance by Chairman of INEC and international observers to the directive and the ensuing confusion affectively clogged INEC’s preparations, especially in the timely distribution of election materials to local government areas across the country,” says Wike.
According to The Guardian, Wike said “in Rivers, the Federal Government deliberately refused to allow the election materials already in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to be distributed to the 23 local government areas on the excuse that some APC members were demonstrating at the state’s INEC office.”
Wike appreciating the international community and country missions for their presence, pointed that presence cause the spontaneous outrage that truncated the original plans to isolate and prevent Rivers State from participating in the elections with the other states of the country.
Despite the postponement, Wike declared that Nigerians were more determined than ever to vote out the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari. This was mentioned during his visit to the Bishop Oyedepo led church, Living Faith in Port Harcourt on Monday, insisting that the postponement will rather “re-energize Nigerians to use their votes to pave way for a better nation”.
Meanwhile, Rochas Okorocha, the Imo State Governor has implored Nigerians to show “patriotism in the face of inconsistencies” caused by the postponement of the general nigerian elections.
Governor Okorocha, who is the Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum, in a statement made available by his Chief Press Secretary Sam Onwuemedo on Monday, clarified that the postponement should not be blamed on either the All Progressive Congress or any other political party.
The governor who is serving for the second and last time is looking to get into the Senate to represent the Imo West Central district, said that although the postponement was unfortunate and regrettable, “INEC should be encouraged to overcome its challenges in efforts to conduct free, fair and credible elections.”