FLASHBACK: Why INEC shifted 2011 general elections - Attahiru Jega
It is true that the postponement of elections, as INEC did on Saturday, February 16, is not new or entirely strange to some Nigerians who are familiar with the country's political history, especially in 2011 when Attahiru Jega, the then commission's boss shifted the polls after voting had begun.
As the dates of the presidential and governorship elections have been shifted by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to Saturday, February 23 and Saturday, March 9, respectively, it is important to flip the pages of Nigeria's political history where we can see a similar occurrence in 2011.
About eight years ago (April, 2011) the National Assembly elections had kicked off in states like Lagos, Kaduna, Kebbi, Delta, Zamfara and Enugu when Jega in a press release shifted the polls following late deployment of polls materials, The Cable reports.
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As at then, Jega's reason was informed by pressure from security chiefs who asked for more time to “diminish Boko Haram”.
The statement read: "Dear Compatriots, since this Commission started work in July 2010, I have repeatedly promised Nigerians that in carrying out our duties we shall always be sincere and truthful with Nigerians.
"I have always said that this INEC will be upfront with Nigerians, telling you exactly how things are – sharing both our successes and difficulties with you.
"This is one such occasion. Indeed, it is an emergency. As you know the National Assembly (House of Representatives and Senate) elections are supposed to be taking place as I speak. You would also have noticed that things have not proceeded smoothly as expected with the elections.
"The reason for this is the unanticipated emergency we have experienced with late arrival of result sheets in many parts of the country. The result sheets are central to the elections and their integrity.
"Accordingly, in many places, our officials have not reported at the polling units, making it now difficult to implement the Modified Open Ballot Procedure that we have adopted. Not only do we have to enter the results in the sheets, the number of accredited voters is also to be entered in the result sheet.
"While we could have proceeded with the elections in a few States of the country, where all the materials are available, such as Lagos, Kaduna, Kebbi, Delta, Zamfara and Enugu, among others, in order to maintain the integrity of the elections and retain effective overall control of the process, the Commission has taken the difficult but necessary decision to postpone the National Assembly elections to Monday, April 4, 2011.
"I appeal to all Nigerians for their understanding in this difficult situation. We as a Commission appreciate the profound sacrifice that you have all made not just in turning out today, but also throughout this election season. We are greatly encouraged by you and our appeal is that you remain steadfast in this last lap of this electoral process in the interest of all Nigerians and in the cause of democracy.
"The Commission will immediately be contacting all political parties, as major stakeholders to explain the situation. I appeal for their support in explaining the situation to their members and supporters.
"May I also appeal to all other stakeholders, particularly national and international observers and our development partners for continued understanding. I realize that they have committed enormous resources to this process, especially in deploying observers in the field. However, we think that what is worth doing is worth doing well.
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"Finally, while we deeply regret this situation and apologise to Nigerians for the hardship this may have created, I would like to reiterate that we are fully committed to conducting free, fair and credible elections for Nigerians. The decision the Commission has taken is weighty; but it is also a very important step in further ensuring the credibility of the elections."
Meanwhile, Legit.ng reported that INEC had shifted the 2019 general election over logistics constraints.
This was announced in Abuja by the chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu around 2.45 am on Saturday, February 16, after he held an emergency meeting with security officials, election observers and other stakeholders.
He said proceeding with the election as scheduled is no longer feasible and as result of this, the election was postponed by a week.
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