POLLS SHIFT: JEGA IS A FAILURE - DAVID WEST
Shock, confusion and condemnations have trailed the postponement of the National Assembly election, the first stanza in a series for the general elections, which ought to have began yesterday.
While many voters were at the polling station waiting for the commencement of voting, the National Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, in a national broadcast said the election would be shifted till tomorrow because of delay in the production of result sheets.
Former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, said the postponement was a disaster to the nation.
Tinubu, in an interview with reporter in Lagos, said although Nigerians expected a better job from INEC in view of the enormous resources that had been committed to the preparations and conduct of the general elections, it was better to postpone it instead of doing a shoddy job.
His words: 'Looking at the shortage of material and sensitive documents, it is better to postpone it instead of doing a shoddy election that you cannot really guarantee the integrity. They saw their failures and they are going to accept responsibilities and give us another date; I can only speculate on that. Here again it is a systemic failure; this is a disaster to the nation and you know who to blame.
Oyo State Governor, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, pleaded for calm over the postponement of the election.
The governor, in a statement by his sposkesman, Prince Dotun Oyelade, said the people should accept the cancellation of the election as an embarrassing price Nigeria has to pay for the growth of democracy.
Alao-Akala thanked the people for trooping out to perform their civic responsibility and said that instead of dampening their spirit, the postponement should encourage them to see through this all-important exercise.
He said he had no doubt about the sincerity and commitment of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and its helmsman, Prof Attahiru Jega.
The governor expressed the hope that the commission would correct all the errors that brought about this national embarrassment.
He warned the people not to cast aspersion on the leadership of INEC, urging them to see this as a collective national challenge.
Kwara State Governor, Dr Bukola Saraki, has described the postponement of the National Assembly election as a big disappointment and a major setback for the march towards consolidating Nigeria's democratic gains.
He, however, appealed to Nigerians not to be discouraged by the challenges being encountered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
According to him, with the massive turnout of the people for the election, it is clear that Nigerians are willing and ready to perform their civic responsibilities.
He urged INEC to immediately find solution to the problem so that the enthusiasm demonstrated by the people over the election would not wane.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, expressed concern that the shift of the election to Monday would disrupt the end-of-term examinations in the state's public schools.
Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Prof. Tam David-West, said Jega had shown Nigerians that the confidence they had in him was misplaced.
His words: 'The postponement is not only disappointing, it is most unfortunate. People, including myself, have very high hope in Jega. What has happened does not edify him as a person and the INEC of which he is the chairman.
'To my knowledge, this is the first time in the history of Nigeria that an election is being postponed; and this is an occasion where Nigeria has spent far more on the election than at any other time in its history, so as to guarantee free and fair elections.
'Jega has been given everything he wanted and to talk of logistic problem shows that he is a failure. He cannot talk of logistic problem on the day of the election. He should have known about the logistic problem long before today and take steps to remedy it. Logistic problems are not instantaneous; they should have been known in time and if he were a good manager, he should done something about it. Jega is a failure. This is a case of management ineptitude. Can he resolve the problem in 48 hours? He cannot solve in two days; he cannot solve it in one week.
'However, let me warn that this is the last chance for Nigeria to conduct free and fair elections; if we fail this time around, Nigeria would not survive. People are tired of manipulation, people are tired of corruption and people are tired of election rigging.'
Dr. Deji Ekundayo said INEC should have postponed the National Assembly election till after the governorship election, slated for April 16.
He also urged INEC to ensure the production of a fresh set of result sheet as the ones with it now could have been compromised, adding that the commission should change the colour of the sheet, otherwise it would affect the entire process of the National Assembly election.
Renowned social critic, Col Abubakar Dangiwa (rtd) said it was unfortunate this had to happened despite the preparations and resources committed to the elections.
He said he trusted Jega's judgment and he must have been pushed by situation to shift the election in order to guarantee its credibility.
'I trust Jega's judgment. He is one of the most honest Nigerians we have around. He wants to be thorough. Nigerians should show understanding.'
Activist lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, said Jega might have underestimated the enormity of the work before him.
According to him, the delay in delivering the election result sheets is a faÃ§ade as there is a grand conspiracy to sabotage the election.
He said some people had planned to announce results without an election.
He, however, said Jega should be commended for having the courage to postpone the election. But the General Secretary of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Mr. Willy Ezugwu, condemned Jega for postponing the election, saying that he has made his predecessor, Prof. Maurice Iwu, a hero.
He said Jega was given everything he demanded but he flopped.
'His reasons are unacceptable. Nigerian firms delivered but the foreign firms disappointed. It is incompetence on his part and Iwu would be laughing now.