Citing operational difficulties, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), after a meeting in Abuja that lasted till early this morning, announced the postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections earlier slated for today.
The INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, who addressed journalists after the meeting, at about 2:44a.m., said the Presidential and National Assembly elections would now hold on February 23.
A visibly worried INEC boss, who addressed the press with some of his national commissioners, said: “Ladies and gentlemen, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) met on Friday, 15th February 2019 and reviewed its preparations for the 2019 general elections scheduled for Saturday, 16th February 2019.
“Following a careful review of the implementation of its logistics and operational plan and the determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections, the Commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the elections as scheduled is no longer feasible.
“Consequently, the Commission has decided to reschedule the Presidential and National Assembly elections to Saturday, 23rdFebruary 2019.
“Furthermore, the Governorship, State House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory Area Council elections are rescheduled to Saturday, 9th March 2019. This will afford the Commission the opportunity to address identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of our elections.
“This was a difficult decision for the Commission to take but necessary for the successful delivery of elections and a consolidation of our democracy.
“The Commission will meet with key stakeholders to update them on this development at 2p.m. on Saturday, 16th February 2019 at the Abuja International Conference Centre.”
In its swift response, the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus said that shoddy arrangement for this election by INEC was a deliberate pre- determined agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari to cling on to power, even when it’s obvious to him that Nigerians want him out.
Secondus in a statement Saturday by his media aide, Mr. Ike Abonyi, warned that the party would not accept anything short of a well organised electoral process devoid of manipulation, harassment and intimidation of voters and the opposition particularly members of the PDP.
He insisted that the postponement was part of a grand design by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to thwart the will of Nigerians at all cost, adding that it clearly exposes INEC as a failure, while also calling for the immediate resignation of INEC chairman.
He stressed, “With several of their rigging options failing, they have to force INEC to agree to a shift in the election or a staggered election with flimsy excuses pre manufactured for the purpose.
“For the avoidance of doubt the PDP sees this action as wicked and we are also aware of other dubious designs like the deployment of hooded security operatives who would be ruthless on the people ostensibly to scare them away.”
In the last few days, there have been many incidents where materials and electronic devices for the conduct of the elections were either destroyed or stolen.
In Plateau State, a drunk security man was alleged to have set the INEC office ablaze, thereby imperiling the exercise by destroying sensitive materials, card readers and other election-ready materials.
Also in Abia State, unknown arsonists torched the Obi Ngwa INEC office where Permanent Voters Cards, computers and other materials were destroyed while in Anambra, an entire card reader for the state and other materials were destroyed by mystery fire.
In Niger State, election materials had not been received as at Friday afternoon while in Taraba, though assurances were being given that they would be delivered, they allegedly waited in vain for them.