Outrage Continues Over Polls Shift

•INEC boss, Professor Attahiru Jega

•INEC boss, Professor Attahiru Jega

Eromosele Ebhomele

Hours after the Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, announced a postponement of the already scheduled general elections in the country, Nigerians have continued to react, with many accusing President Goodluck Jonathan, the country’s security chiefs and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, of plotting a coup against Nigeria.

Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, had on Saturday night also heaped the blame for the decision of INEC to postpone the election on the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and the service chiefs, who in a letter to Jega, reportedly said their officers would not take part in the elections because they have a six-week offensive against Boko Haram on the north east part of the country..

According to Jega, the presidential and National Assembly elections would now hold on 28 March while the governorship and House of Assembly elections would hold on 11 April.

While some critics said the postponement had sinister motives, others went comical, saying it would afford President Goodluck Jonathan the opportunity to visit other churches he did not have the opportunity to visit in the course of his campaign for re-election.

•INEC boss, Professor Attahiru Jega
•INEC boss, Professor Attahiru Jega

National leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, who twitted his reaction, said the postponement was democracy at gun point.

“Our democracy is now at the mercy of the gun. Jega caved in to pressure and blackmail,” he said, calling the election postponement a mere pretext by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to gain time to perfect their rigging machine.

“Nigerians are unhappy. What is new about the security situation in the last one week that has not been there in the past three years to warrant this postponement?

“The service chiefs are being clever by half. By playing the script of the ruling party they do their profession great harm and Nigeria damage

“Nigerians are not ignorant of the plots/sub-plots for postponement. An incumbent that pulls all the stops to postpone elections is a loser

“For the ambition of one man and his partying cronies, the rights and interest of 68 million voters is violated. There is a dictator in charge.

“The APC will counsel its members and Nigerians to be calm as the party processes this. We know there is no stopping the wind of change.

“Let’s dissect carefully what was said. Postponed not because of security situation per se but because army decided to go on a belated offensive.”

In her tweet, women’s rights crusader, Joe Okei-Odumakin, said it was glaring there was an underhand manipulation.

“Glaringly, postponement of elections will not be on account that INEC is not ready. It will heavily be because the Nigerian Army wants it moved,” she said adding: “If INEC announces that it is ready to go ahead with elections, I think we should go on. After all, we’ve had the timetable since last year.”

Prominent journalist and publisher, Dele Olojede, simply said: “Nigeria’s inept military now has veto power over whether and when elections can hold. All bets are off, people.”

In his reaction, member of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, wondered: “So the Nigerian Army now determines when elections are held? The PDP just gave Nigerians one more reason why there must be a change.”

Former Minister of Education and rights activist, Oby Ezekwesili, warned against any violent reaction to the postponement of the election, but urged Nigerians to demand for more explanations.

“I don’t know about other people, but as an informed citizen, I am not persuaded by the reasons adduced for postponement of 2015 elections…Best citizens’ response to this unfortunate development is non-violent demand for full disclosure from Federal Government on what happened and what to expect.

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“Some things are not adding up in this sudden postponement of 2015 elections. Yeah. There is more to it than meets the eye…Is the electoral empire under ‘pressure’ to postpone or is he calling the shots based on clear headed considerations? Citizens should know.

“Postponing 11th hour an election that citizens are excitedly mobilized to exercise their right seems like yet another contemptuous act.”

Popular Information Technology consultant, Olugbenga Sesan, said against Jega’s denial, it was clear that the postponement was forced on INEC, adding that this has a lot of implications.

“It is strange that security agencies have a timetable for combating insurgents that coincides with the exact period planned for elections…This government has basically said they’d combat insurgency successfully over the next 6 weeks. Setting themselves up for more failure?

“There will be reactions, hopefully peaceful and lawful. I think INEC’s hands were forced by a dictator who needs more time to dance naked,” he said, adding there would be attempts, over the next few weeks, to disqualify Buhari and send Prof. Jega packing ahead of his full term in June.

“Change isn’t something that can be postponed or delayed, it can only be accelerated when the time has come. For Nigeria…A king that is afraid to face the battle that will end his reign is one that only defers-and accentuates-his coming disgrace,” he said.

Analyst, Karo Orovboni, said the postponement makes him know who “the bad guys are.”

“In summary, INEC is ready for elections but the presidency and military do not want the elections to hold. NSA came to London to sow the seed. This was all in the plan.”

While preaching against violence, he asked: “can Jonathan and his military men tell us why they’ve been unable to curtail Boko Haram in five years, but will be able to do so in six weeks? We are heading for constitutional crisis. Let’s wait and see…Nigerians wanted to vote on the 14th of February, Jonathan and PDP said you cannot, you have to wait until we are ready.

“It does not matter if you are a Jonathan or Buhari supporter. That we can’t conduct an election as scheduled is a huge shame. For those who have scheduled their weddings for March 28th and April 11th, President Jonathan and military would like you to postpone it.

“If they crush Boko Haram in six weeks, you know who has been behind it all this while. It is worthy to note that GEJ has been poking Nigerians, testing your resolve. Nigerians have reacted well, not provoked to anger.”

Rights activist, Shehu Sani simply went proverbial: “you can postpone a funeral because of your emotion for the deceased, but you can’t restore life back to the corpse.”

Kayode Ogundamisi, a political analyst, also said: “we must not fall into this obvious trap set out by the coup plotters. Let us #MARCH4BUHARI. We waited six years. We can take 6 weeks. We will #March4Buhari to Change Nigeria for the better.”

National Chairman of the PDP, Adamu Mu’azu, who commended INEC for the decision, however, slammed the electoral body for attributing the reason to the NSA and service chiefs alone.

“INEC has been told 23 million Nigerians will not be denied the right to vote among several other things. Why should any registered Nigerian voter even be disenfranchised?

“INEC chair did not tell Nigerians about all the challenges he told us the commission was experiencing. He shifts all to security. He also didn’t tell Nigerians about their challenges of Ad-Hoc staff, PVC, etc.

“He refused to take any fault for disenfranchisement of Nigerians through PVC distribution…hifts all fault to security advice. Major issues were: governors complained of disenfranchisement in their states, political parties complained, security advice, etc.

“Even INEC Ad-Hoc Staff, logistics and several other issues were all on the table but all of a sudden, only security advice was mentioned,” he lamented.

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