By Our reporters
ABUJA — Barely 24 hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission,INEC, told the nation that it was ready for the February 14, 2015 presidential election, the commission has again said that it would brief the nation today on whether or not the the polls would hold as originally scheduled.
This was as indications emerged last night that the INEC might have come under immense pressure to postpone the 2015 elections, whose timetable was released to the public over a year ago.
The briefing on whether the elections would go on or not as scheduled would hold after a meeting between INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega with Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja. This will be followed by another meeting between INEC and chairmen and secretaries of registered political parties. Thereafter INEC will unfold their plans to Nigerians.
Kayode Idowu, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Prof. Jega, made this known yesterday in Abuja.
In a statement in Abuja, Idowu said, ‘’As a follow-up to that meeting (NCS), the commission has scheduled a consultative meeting with chairmen and secretaries of all registered political parties, as well as a meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, on Saturday, February 7, 2015 (today).
‘’Thereafter, the Commission will address a press conference to brief the nation on its decision with regard to whether or not the general elections will hold as currently scheduled.”
INEC had said Thursday that it was ready for the election over which 70, 383, 427 people were registered as eligible voters.
It said that out of the figure, 45, 098, 876 Nigerians had collected their Permanent Voters’ Cards, PVCs, while 25, 284, 551 others or 34 percent were yet to collect the PVCs for the exercise.
Meanwhile, sources told Saturday Vanguard that although the commission chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, had stood his grounds that the election should proceed as planned, agents of the Federal Government opposed to the polls, had mounted pressure on him to shift grounds.
It was learnt that some of the security agencies that had earlier assured Jega of their preparedness to provide cover for the commission to conduct the election, had claimed that they could no longer guarantee same. The security operatives are said to have distanced themselves from Jega and his commission after reading the mood of the National Council of States, which shied away from directly asking INEC to go ahead with the conduct of the election but simply authorised it to ‘’exercise its constitutional role.’’
The security chiefs, it was gathered, took advantage of the ambiguity created by the decision of the NCS and the feelings within the Presidency and the ruling People’s Democratic Party, which favour a shift of the polls, to distance themselves from INEC.
A source close to the administration in Abuja told Saturday Vanguard that the commission would not want to play into the hands of its enemies by going ahead with the election if there would not be adequate security cover for its personnel given the current situation in the country.
According to the source, INEC was now willing to shift the polls for a few weeks in a bid to douse the tension being generated over the non distribution of PVCs to many Nigerians and also assuage the feelings within the ruling party, whose members have already called for Jega’s sack.
Apparently in a bid to find justification for the planned shift, Jega said yesterday that a firm decision on the election would only be taken after another meeting with the political parties and RECs in Abuja today.
In another development, Oganiru Ndigbo, an association of Igbo residents in the North, had yesterday lamented that most Igbo living in the northern states were leaving for the east due to the tension generated over the forthcoming polls.
A statement signed by Mr Chidi Anyanwu in Kaduna State yesterday regretted that Igbo were not allowed to exercise their franchise in the various states as they were being vilified by their host states and asked the Federal Government to assure the safety of all Nigerians, before during and after the polls.