President Goodluck Jonathan said Wednesday that he was “not consulted” on a widely-criticised decision to postpone national elections by six weeks, rejecting claims that his political interests motivated the delay.
“I was not consulted and I don’t want to be consulted,” Jonathan said in a nationally broadcast interview, insisting that election officials made an independent decision after receiving guidance from the security agencies.
The opposition and some independent commentators have argued that Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party had pushed for the delay fearing that it was heading for electoral defeat.
But Jonathan said he did not “see the big deal” concerning the postponement, as the Independent National Electoral Commission acted within the constitution.
He said difficulties in distributing voter identity cards and security concerns in the northeast region besieged by Boko Haram Islamist militants were legitimate reasons for a delay.
He added that the “international community” occasionally sees election delays in Africa as an excuse by the incumbent to “extend tenure.”
“That is not the case in Nigeria,” he told a panel of reporters, assuring that a democratically elected government will be sworn in on May 29, in keeping with constitutional provisions.
Jonathan is facing a tough challenge from former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari of the opposition All Progressives Congress and most experts have said the race is too close to call.