INEC Meets With Political Parties
The meeting is holding amidst speculations that the polls scheduled for February 14 and 28 will be postponed by about six weeks.
Although the INEC is yet to make any official announcement, international media organisations are quoting an unnamed Nigerian official as saying that elections will be postponed in order to give the new multinational force time to secure areas under Boko Haram control.
As the meeting between INEC and the parties held, a coalition of civil rights groups staged a protest at the headquarters of the electoral body in Abuja to resist moves for the postponement of the elections.
The leader of the group, Mr Solomon Dalung, said that they heard that the ongoing meeting between the electoral umpire and political party leaders was aimed at announcing INEC’s decision of the postponement of the polls.
The INEC said that the group was only acting on rumour, as there is no such information at the moment.
Council Of State Asked INEC To Conduct Polls
Today’s meeting is coming two days after the Council of State advised the INEC to go ahead and perform its constitutional responsibility of conducting the 2015 elections.
At the end of the Council’s meeting, the Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, told reporters that the INEC had told the council that it was ready for the conduct of the elections.
He said security chiefs also expressed their readiness but raised issues about some local governments currently under the control of the Boko Haram sect.
Parties Seek Shift Of Date
Before the council of state met, 16 registered political parties and four presidential candidates on Tuesday joined the call for postponement of the forthcoming general elections.
The presidential candidates, including Godson Okoye of the United Democratic Party (UDP), Sam Ekeh of Citizens Popular Party (CPP), Tunde Anifowose Kelani, Action Alliance (AA), and Ganiyu Galadima (ACPN), insisted that the present security situation in the north-east and the untidy manner in which INEC had handled the distribution of the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) had triggered the call for the postponement.
They stressed that the level of violence, threat of violence and use of foul languages in political campaigns have been a clear breach of the Abuja Peace Accord which was signed by the 14 presidential candidates.
The political parties and their presidential candidates, who threatened to boycott the election if INEC ignores their request, argued that a credible election could not take place in a country where a geo-political zone would be practically excluded due to insecurity.
APC Kicks Against Election Postponement
Just before the council of states met, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential candidate, Mohammadu Buhari, kicked against any attempt by the Federal Government to postpone the February 14 and 28 elections, warning members of the National Council of State, against being dragged into a postponement which could damage the nation’s electoral process.
The party accused the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of acting out a script to deny Nigerians the right to vote for their preferred leader.
The APC’s position was made known at a press conference in Abuja by its National Chairman, Mr John Oyegun, who added that the consequences of polls shift might be unpredictable.
Doyin Okupe List Why Presidency Wants Elections Postponed
On Friday, the presidency listed some of the reasons it felt that going ahead with the February dates for the general elections, as scheduled by the INEC could “throw the country into turmoil and confusion”.
According to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, “if the elections go on as planned, they may throw the country into chaos”.
While speaking at a press conference on the Council of State meeting held on Thursday, Dr. Okupe said the President would not engage in any form of subterfuge to pressurise INEC to change the dates of the elections.
He said that during the meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, never insisted on the February dates as reported by some media organisations.
On the level of preparedness of INEC, Dr. Okupe stated that during the meeting, it was revealed that the only process that was 100 per cent concluded was the preparation and availability of the voters register.