Responding to requests and clarifications inundating the Nigerian Embassy in the United States over the postponement of the general elections, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the country, Prof Ade Adefuye has assured the international community that the election shift will allow the independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to perfect its system for conducting credible elections.
In a statement made available to Vanguard, Friday, Prof. Adefuye said, the decision to postpone the election was based on the need to get logistics right, allow all qualified Nigerians to exercise their franchise and ensure adequate security during the conduct of the polls.
According to the Ambassador, Nigeria is committed to conducting a free, credible and peaceful election , “not only because of its importance to the future of democracy in Africa, but also because of our belief in the principle of democracy and the intricate connection between democracy and development.”
His words: “Since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the re-scheduling of the general elections in Nigeria that were to begin on 14th February, 2015, the Embassy of Nigeria has been inundated with telephone calls and mails from individuals and organizations across the United States seeking information or clarifications on the status of these elections. The Embassy is pleased with the widespread interest in these elections, and wishes to assure all that the elections, now re-scheduled to begin on 28th March, 2015, will proceed as planned
” We have a National Electoral Commission (INEC) that is independent in all its ramifications. It is the body that decides the dates of the elections based on its belief that the logistics and security necessary to ensure the conduct of a credible election are in place. As it has been admitted by INEC itself, the election management body was facing some challenges in meeting the target date of 14th February for the elections. With a week to the elections, only about 45,829,808 Personal Voters Cards (PVCs), representing about 60% of the total number of registered voters has been distributed. INEC also had issues with getting over 600,000 ad hoc polling staff ready for the elections. The decision by INEC to move the election forward will therefore allow it to perfect its systems, including the distribution of over 26 million PVCs to voters.
“On security, Nigeria is now leading a multi-national task force that is waging a serious war against insurgency in the North-Eastern part of the country. Because of this, the Defence Forces will find it difficult to provide security necessary for a peaceful conduct of the election in the affected states in the North-Eastern part of the country. The full attention of the Armed Forces is currently directed towards ending the insurgency. It is the combination of the security concerns which are serious and genuine as well as the need to perfect the election arrangements that compelled INEC to postpone the election.
The ambassador also reiterated President Jonathan’s commitment to ensure the swearing in of an elected President on May 29.
” Let me stress that the decision to postpone the election was made by INEC and not the Government. The dates of February 14 and 28, 2015 earlier changed by INEC are not sacrosanct. According to section 260 of the 2010 Electoral Act, the election body is required to choose a date so long as it is more than 30 days from the date for the swearing-in of a new government as provided for in the Constitution. What is sacrosanct is the 29th of May as the date for the swearing-in of the elected President. President Goodluck Jonathan has promised that the date will be strictly adhered to. What is also sacrosanct is our determination to conduct a free, fair, credible and peaceful election as well as providing adequately for the security of lives and properties in Nigeria.”