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We’re Disappointed - Nigerians In Ghana Tell INEC For Postponing Presidential Poll   
 
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18-Feb-2019  
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Some Nigerian residents in Ghana have expressed shock and disappointment at the postponement of Nigeria’s presidential and National Assembly elections hours before voting was scheduled to start.

Announcing the postponement of the polls about 3 a.m. last Saturday, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said: “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, 23rd February 2019. Furthermore, the Governorship, State House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) 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.”

Prof. Yakubu also told a press conference last Saturday that there were as many as 640 cases in court against the INEC arising from the nomination of candidates.

Besides, he said, as of last Saturday there were 40 court orders against the commission to drop or add a candidate.

The INEC Chairman, who described the decision as “painful but necessary”, further disclosed that even though ballot papers and result sheets were ready, they could not be airlifted to various parts of the country.

Untenable

But Nigerians in Ghana would not take the reasons given by the INEC, explaining that the electoral body had subjected the country to global ridicule which would cast doubt on the outcome of the elections, especially should the incumbent win.

In separate interviews with the Daily Graphic in Accra, Koforidua, and Kumasi yesterday, some Nigerians said INEC had it wrong to have postponed the elections at the 11th hour.

While some expressed fear that the postponement would affect the turnout of the election, which had now been rescheduled for February 23, 2019, others contended that Nigeria’s image would forever be dented.

The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Nigerians in the Diaspora Organisation, Chief Isaac Chigbata Ogbonna, said: “I am disappointed in INEC and also concerned about the cost the postponement will have on the Nigerian economy.”

History repeats itself

This is not the first time that Nigeria has postponed scheduled national elections and some Nigerians wonder why the INEC refused to learn from past experiences.

It happened in 2011 and 2015, and in both cases, the commission alluded to the late arrival of voting materials and insecurity as reasons for postponing the elections it had taken the commission years to prepare for.

Mr. Goodluck Jonathan won the 2011 presidential election, while Mr. Mahamudu Buhari swept his way to victory in the 2015 presidential poll.

In postponing last Saturday’s elections, the INEC ruled out further campaigning by political parties and any extension of the collection of voter cards.

The rescheduling of the elections also affected businesses, flight arrangements and schedules of many travellers, as voters complained of the consequences the postponement would have on their planned programmes.

President Buhari had gone to his home in Adamawa to vote and when he heard of the postponement of the elections, he grew furious.

Blame game

The last-minute postponement drew President Buhari and his main challenger in the presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, the People’s Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, into a blame game.

While President Buhari expressed disappointment with the INEC, especially when it had “given assurances that it was ready for the elections”, Mr. Atiku launched a blistering attack on the government, accusing it of instigating the delay.

“Their plan is to provoke the public, hoping for a negative reaction, and then use that as an excuse for further anti-democratic acts,” the main opposition leader said.

Fears and concerns

One of the leaders of a Nigerian group in Kasoa, Murtala Seidu, expressed fear that comes February 23, this year, the turnout at voting centres might suffer because people had to travel all over the world to come and cast their ballot.

“I personally have no doubt that come February 23, this year, the turnout at voting centres in Nigeria will be disappointing. Many Nigerians have travelled to their voting centres to participate in the elections. The question is: will they be willing to return and turn up again for the voting next Saturday?" he asked.

Mr. Seidu said about 15 Nigerians in Kasoa left last Thursday morning for Nigeria to cast their ballot, but “now that it has been postponed, what should they do?”

“They cannot stay for another week because most of them have their businesses to operate in Ghana,” he added.

Another member of a Nigerian group at SCC in Accra, Mr. Aregon Abiola, said the postponement would create a breeding ground for the election results to be contested or doubted.

“There are a lot of questions to answer. How come INEC called it off a few hours to voting? Were they not briefed properly regarding the logistics? Did they only find out Saturday morning?” he asked.

Mr. Abiola said he was hopeful that the elections scheduled for February 23 would not suffer as a result of the postponement.

A concerned Nigerian media practitioner, Mr. Oluwakayode Elijah Iposu, said the excuse given by the INEC boss regarding the postponement was flimsy because “he and his office had four years to plan for these elections”.

“Did they just find out about the logistics issues on Friday night? What actually went wrong that the elections would be called off a few hours before voting commenced? I personally don’t understand,” he said.

Another concern raised by Mr. Emmanuel Akunde, a Nigerian businessman, was the unfortunate situation created for international observers.

He said his concern had to do with the foreigners, media crew and election monitors who were already on the ground to work but had to put everything on hold.

“The move took many people by surprise. The two other times elections were moved it was not done like this one. This disrupted lives and businesses. Some airlines had cancelled flights yesterday. The economic losses are huge. We can make sacrifices for elections but making sacrifices for nothing is hard for most Nigerians to bear,” Mr. Akunde said.

Another Nigerian who gave his name as Ikechukwu in Kumasi said the INEC had failed Nigeria again and expressed the hope that last Saturday’s polls would not face any more challenges. Also Yemi Babatunde, a trader in Koforidua, said the postponement would affect turnout next Saturday but urged Nigerians not to be perturbed and take the opportunity to deepen democracy.

Dr. Antwi-Danso welcomes the decision

But an international relations expert, Dr. Vladimir Antwi-Danso, is full support of the INEC’s decision, describing it as “a normal thing”.

“For me, it’s a normal thing. The INEC found out that from the point of view of logistics and security, they needed to postpone it because the aftermath could have been bad,” he told the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday.

Dr. Antwi-Danso, who is a Dean at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College, argued that it was better postponing the elections than going ahead and having post-election strife.
 
 
Source: Graphic.com
 
 

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