2019: US, UK, Back INEC As Yakubu Defends Postponement Of General Elections

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  There was the initial fear that many of the International Observer teams from the US and the UK, may be withdrawn by their home governments because of the  alleged suspision  that President Muhammadu  Buhari of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, who is seeking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 and Chairman of INNEC, had made wide consultations locally and carried the international Community along in  taking the decision for the postponement of the election to give it credibility.

 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 .

Yakubu Gowon: Former Head Of State Attended meeting Called By INEC

 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 were also news making the rounds that some of the elections result has been written  in the states. Analysts cited Abia state where a suspect was caught with filled election forms showing the PDP Candidates as the clear winners. More worrisome was the alleged transfer of electoral material materials meant for some east states to the north.

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.

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