PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has demanded that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must explain in further details why the presidential and national assembly elections initially scheduled for Saturday, February 16, was abruptly postponed.
Buhari said this during the All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus meeting held on Monday, at the party’s headquarters in Abuja, to discuss the postponement. The meeting was aired on live television.
He insisted that although INEC is an independent institution according to the constitution, it has to account to Nigerians what actually happened to warrant the postponement, despite having been provided with all the resources it required for the planning of the elections.
“INEC had all the time and all the resources they wanted, they didn’t have to wait for only six hours to cancel the election,” Buhari said, adding that “after the election, we have to know exactly what happened and who is responsible”.
“The constitution and the law protected INEC but they must not take us for granted.
“If, for example, the National Assembly refused to approve what INEC wanted, the INEC would have some moral reasons why they couldn’t perform. If the time, constitutionally, of elections, four years after, was not obeyed by the government and the system, INEC would have a case. But we do not understand why this incompetence and we have to go into details, after the elections, to find out who is responsible.”
The INEC National Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, had already explained that the elections were shifted to a later date as a result of several challenges faced by the commission a few days to the initial election date.
Among the challenges were the issue of logistics and getting materials to their destinations in good time. There were also the fire incidents that occurred in three of INEC’s offices across the country, leading to loss of several crucial equipments, including card readers which he said could take up to six months to replace.
Buhari also recounted the efforts the APC had committed into ensuring that the party had committed members across all the polling units in the federation, and the cost they incurred in ensuring that the party agents’ welfare was taken care of.
He, however, urged all loyal APC supporters across the country not to go to sleep but to restrategise and remain motivated for the now rescheduled elections.
I’m not afraid of losing
With regards to security situation during the polls, Buhari said he had briefed the law enforcement agencies and the military and that they had identified hot spots and flash points and are prepared to move.
He said arrangements had been concluded and resources provided for the various security agencies as much as the country can afford it, and that he had directed them to deal “ruthless” with anyone who decides to snatch ballot boxes or engage in one act of violence or the other.
“We are not going to be blamed that we want to rig elections. I want Nigerians to be respected. Let them vote whoever they want across the parties. I am not afraid of that.
“The whole 36 states and Abuja, I went round. I think I have got enough support across the country to look after me. So, I am going to warn anybody who thinks he has enough influence in his locality to lead a body of thugs to snatch boxes or to disturb the voting system, he will do it at the expense of his own life.
Earlier, the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, had said that the party would request a meeting with INEC where it would demand a proof that the commission is fully ready for the elections on the rescheduled date.
He expressed doubts over INEC’s ability to reconfigure over 170,000 smart card readers that will be used for the election, and also how the commission expects to go to the polls with just about 4000 spare card readers. Oshiomhole said that every singular card reader ought to have a spare so that if one fails, another would be easily deployed, but a situation where there are only 4000 spare card readers for more than 170,000 polling units, leaves more to be desired.
Oshiomhole also said the party would be demanding to know how INEC intends to ensure that sensitive electoral materials that had already been disbursed prior to the rescheduling of the elections, will not be compromised by unscrupulous politicians.
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