By Nwangwu Uba
Donald Trump, the United States President and Theresa May, the British Prime minister, appears to have thrown their weight behind the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, postponement of the country’s general elections by one week to ensure a free, fair and credible elections.
Stuart Symington, the US Ambassador to Nigeria may have spoken the mind of Trump when he assures of the government support to the Commission as it ”finalises preparations for the February 23, 2019, Presidential and National Assembly Elections.
In the same vein Catriona Lang, the British High Commissioner has promised of her country’s plan to deploy their Observer team to the field next weekend for the election , insisting that that the British government remained a ”supporter to Nigeria’s Democracy. There was the initial fear that many of the International Observer teams from the US and the UK, may be withdrawn by their home governments because of the alleged suspision that President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, who is seeking re-election may have been instrumental to the Election postponement.
Unknown to many, Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor
This is evident going by his recent meetings with Stakeholders which was attended by Mohammed Chambers, a Special Representative of the United Kingdom Secretary General in West Africa, Representatives of Election bodies from US, UK, France and other parts of the world including local and International Observer teams .
Even Yakubu Gowon, a retired Army General and former Head of State was invited to the meeting. The INEC Chairman had declared that the postponement of the election has nothing to do with ”the security situation in the north east or any other part of the country, political influence or inadequate resources”, stressing that it has to do with the” logistical challenges faced in the deploying of human and material resources to the states for the conduct of the elections”.
The INEC, also mentioned the deliberate attempts to sabotage the election process with the fire incidents which ravaged its offices in different parts of the country, particular the Awka office incident, where over four thousand card readers were destroyed where they were stored. there
He may have absolved Buhari from blame over the decision to postpone the general elections when he asserts ” we take full responsibility for what happened and we regret any inconvenience our decision might have caused”. He may be right. he has repeatedly said that he wants the institutions to do their job without Executive interference. The recent attempt by the party leadership and Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state and Director General of Buhari Presidential Council to interfere in the Court ruling banning INEC from fielding any APC Candidate in the governorship, National and State Assemblies elections in Rivers state which he rebuffed speaks volume.
it was not surprising why Yakubu, the INEC boss, could mobilise his top officials to take such a critical decision within a few hours to the Saturday, February 16, 2019 election. The Value news learnt it was a closely guided secret as the Katsina state born Nigerian President may have heard it at the same time that other Nigerians and the international Community heard about it. He his harsh word for the Commission that” despite the long notice given and the preparations both locally and internationally, it postponed the Presidential and National Assembly elections within hours of its commencement” was asign that he may not have been consulted by the Commission.
In spite of the explanations proffered by the electoral umpire for the shift in the Saturday Presidential and National Assembly elections and the reaction of the President, Donald Duke, a former governor of Cross River state and Presidential Candidate of the Social the Democratic Party, SDP, alleged that INEC acted out a script written for it by some powerful forces in the Presidency with a view to ”crippling the opposition political parties of funds and disarm them completely to prosecute the election”
Duke said the APC may not really be bothered about the postponement as it has ”unlimited access to state funds”, which Nathaniel Ugo, an Aba based trader has said may not be totally correct , describing Buhari as a ”stingy right wing dictator” , to borrow the Adjective used by the Guardian of London in qualifying him, to dip his hand in state funds to prosecute his elections.
The SDP, Candidate who has an axe to grind with the two major parties, APC and People’s Democratic Party, PDP, said he was not surprised when INEC took the decision. The Cross river state born politician said the PDP, gave the Commission the room to act.
According to him the PDP had started the” Campaigns of shifting the elections weeks to the exercise but noted that the APC , took it to a whole new level, postponing it hours to the polls” . He described the election postponement as a ”Coup with the Gambit of the Law”. But the postponement of the elections, according to Yakubu, the INEC boss was for the good of ”Nigeria’s democracy”.
Meanwhile, the US and the British government have enjoined Nigerians to ensure ”free, fair , peaceful and credible elections by coming out to vote in en-mase on February 23, 2019 for the re-scheduled Presidential and National Assembly election.