Elections’ postponement: Nigerians now wiser

By Valentine Amanze

Chinese popular adage says fool me once shame on you; shame me twice shame on me.
Saturday, February 16, 2019 precisely 2.45am Nigerians woke up to the newsbreak that the Presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled to begin the same morning had been postponed by the umpire – the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In a statement conveying the acidic message, the INEC never apologized to Nigerians and indeed the world, who had waited for four years for another credible election in the Africa’s most populous nation.
As a journalist, I had mapped out my work plan for the coverage of the maiden election to be conducted by the self-acclaimed righteous leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, and his All Progressives Congress (APC) government.
Why I waited for the day was to prove some pastors, who had prophesized that the election wouldn’t hold wrong. The men of God were right after all - a monumental failure of the Buhari-led administration.
But Nigerians, who waited for a “Real Change”, were disappointed.
No nation that values its citizens will postpone general elections in the dead of the night when people were sleeping. It is only in Nigeria where the government and its agencies don’t consider the effect of their decisions on their subjects.
It is appalling that the INEC did not consider the socio-political and economic consequences of its action after assurances that the election would hold.
I weep for Nigerians, who abandoned their businesses hoping to perform their civil responsibility last weekend.
Many events were adjusted to ensure they did not clash with Saturday’s election only to wake up and be greeted with the heartbreaking announcement. The financial damage is unimaginable. Nigeria cannot continue to reward incompetence on exercises that were programmed to fail.
President Buhari cannot give an election speech last Friday night and INEC postpones a nationwide election on Election Day.
The INEC had many years to prepare for the election and it failed under Mr. Mahmood Yakubu. With the development, Nigerians have clearly lost confidence in the ability of Yakubu to conduct free and fair elections.
The postponement raises pertinent questions: why was the election cancelled after sensitive election materials had been deployed?
What happens to the materials, will the materials be recalled?
How secure are those materials?
How come INEC was not aware of the "logistics problems" until a few hours to commencement of voting?
Is INEC's postponement of the election within the said time frame constitutional in view of section 26(1) of the Electoral Act as amended? (The section provides for security concerns and natural disasters, where cogent and verifiable as only reasons for postponing election.)
Should Nigerians insist on the use of new ballot papers as the sanctity of the ballot papers are no longer assured?
How much was lost by the INEC and the Federal Government due the postponement?
Will the postponement affect INEC’s budget for the 2019 general election?
I feel that the Federal Government had a prior knowledge of the postponement otherwise its security network deserved to be sacked.
However, going by the opposition parties’ allegation, the postmonement could be a strategy by the ruling party to reman in power.
Besides, many registered voters could not get their PVCs from INEC before last Saturday, while INEC offices in Anambra and Abia states were torched even with the presence of security officers, recently.
Nigerians witnessed what happened in Imo, Edo and Osun states in the last general elections organized by the same INEC boss, Yakubu.
In the states INEC strategically cancelled elctions in some areas where the opposition had strong hold and re-ran to favour the preferred candidates of APC.
It is also alleged that the Federal Government and the INEC are planning for a staggered election, which will enhance their ability to concentrate efforts in a particular area to win.
With the latest development, Nigerians have seen the handwriting on the wall. Pharaoh let my people go. The unity of Nigeria is greater than the interest of few individuals.
Never again shall we be deceived. We are now wiser to choose our real leaders. Let us forget last Saturday’s disappointment and frustration and cast our votes to people-oriented candidates this weekend.

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