Anger, Disappointment, Anxiety Trial NASS Election Postponement


ABUJA, April 02, (THEWILL) - Anger, disappointment and palpable anxiety enveloped the country following the mid-way cancellation of the National Assembly elections today by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega.

Jega's announcement and subsequent shifting of the poll to Monday, April 4 even as accreditation and actual voting had commenced in some states like Abia State, Lagos, and Anambra left many voters and some politicians stunned and completely confused.

Condemning the development, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) described the postponement as an unwarranted false start, which has levied unwarranted huge cost to the Nigerian people.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Osita Okechukwu, the organised opposition said It is highly regrettable and unpardonable; in spite of the apology tendered by Professor Jega.

"Questions! Questions! Questions! Why is it that Professor Jega and his team failed to postpone the election on Thursday or Friday when they noticed that the vendor has failed to deliver on schedule; in other words that the materials will not be on the ground as scheduled?

"Why fail to save Nigerians the huge cost – of resources, energy, time, especially the opposition political parties?

"Conference of Nigerian Political Parties {CNPP} had severally queried the failure of INEC to adopt open and transparent process template in the award of the contracts, instead INEC accepted names submitted from the presidency; for if the award of the contract of the materials which led to this faux pas was open and transparent the situation could have been different.

"Professor Jega should sit-up and save Nigerian democracy which had been thoroughly discredited by misgovernace of the last ten years; the nation should not be shut down on Monday.

"Consequently, April 4, National Assembly election is unfavourable, untenable and will only confer undue advantage to the ruling party; therefore the National Assembly election should hold in April 9, together with the Presidential election or be postponed to the 23 April as the last election", he said.

In Anambra, the ANPP senatorial candidate for Anambra South, Chief George Moghalu, said, "It's quite scaring and sends a denger signal. If the issue is not properly handled, it will put a question mark on the operatios of INEC.”

Describing the cancellation as disappointing, the Deputy National Chairman of the Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Organisation, Senator Emma Anosike, said, "I feel very disappointed because the INEC Chairman only a few days ago told the National Council of State that INEC was ready for the election.

"It is a terrible disappointment. But I believe based on what I saw that everything will be fine on Monday.”

Former Anambra State Governor and ACN candidate for Anambra Central senatorial zone, Dr. Chris Ngige said, "Monday is too sudden. I do not see the difference between Saturday and Monday. If they cannot do it on Saturday, can they do it on Monday?" he however praised INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega for the courage to postpone the poll.

In Ogun State, Prominent stakeholders including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Governor of the State, Chief Olusegun Osoba, Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State, and Ogun State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Chief Adetunji Olurin, also reacted to the postponement.

In his reaction, Obasanjo said, “what I have seen in this polling station is impressive. But of course, there are hitches here and there, which will be taken care off, if not for this election, but for the subsequent elections.”

According to Daniel, the postponement of the National Assembly election is one that comes with a monumental cost to the nation, saying that he had already done his accreditation at his Isote ward in Sagamu when news of the postponement filtered in.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Adegbenro Adebanjo, he said, INEC has a lot of explanations to give to Nigerians since the body had already told Nigerians that it was ready for the election.

He said, “a lot of man hour and financial outlay had gone into the preparation of the election and everybody had expected a fair outing from INEC which got all the needed support from President Goodluck Jonathan, the Federal Government and the generality of Nigerians.”

He added that, “Of course we are all disappointed with the turn of events especially the negative effect this would have on our image internationally, because INEC and Nigeria have no excuse for this failure. However we should not be discouraged, we should turn out en masse on Monday to exercise our civic right and vote for the candidates of our choice.”

Also reacting, General Tunji Olurin who was in the Ilaro area of the state said he saw the postponement coming, adding,

“when I got the report around 9 am that materials had not arrived the various polling unit, I realized that there was something wrong.”

Commenting, Chief Segun Osoba said, “there are no forms EC8; that form is the most important evidence. The result sheet which is form EC 8 are not available in most parts of Ogun State. The whole of Ijebu North, many parts of Egba area, that is Central Senatorial district, don’t have the Form EC8. How do you get the forms to the remote areas across the local governments? Are the forms going to be taken by helicopter?” he asked.

CODER Disappointed
The Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reform (CODER) expressed disappointment with cancellation of the election nationwide, saying the electoral umpire has once again failed to match promises with reality.

The National Coordinator of the organization, Ayo Opadokun, who bared his mind to newsmen after observing the election in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, remarked that the election was a sad reminder of Nigeria’s woeful past in election organization, adding that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Nigerian leaders have again taken citizens for granted.

“It is a sad reminder of our recent past that our public officials at each point of our national history have always taken Nigerians for granted. Usually, they will raise the hopes of Nigerians about the state of their preparedness but we have always recorded a completely opposite reality of their preparation. Professor Attahiru Jega has told the whole world in the last two months that INEC was fully ready for the election. He explained that the Navy, Air Force, and the Nigerian Army would help to deliver sensitive materials and personnel to areas difficult to reach by land.

“However, given exemplary preparation of Nigerians who trooped out this morning, all INEC had done again is to dampen their enthusiasm.

“CODER is very unhappy that all our efforts to mobilize Nigerians to register and vote which has received significant acceptance has been frustrated by INEC’s in ability to meet the expectation of Nigerians.

“In spite of their machinations not to allow a credible election, Nigerians should force them constitutionally to achieve a free, fair and credible election that is about to start on Monday,” he said.