By Dayo Johnson & Daud Olatunji
AKURE—MANY Ad- hoc staff, including National Youth Service Corps members engaged for Saturday’s botched election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, were stranded across Ondo State, lamenting that they were abandoned since Friday after the election was postponed by INEC.
One of the corps member, who identified herself as Halimat, said: “I was surprised when they said we should be here a day before the election. They brought us here on Friday around 3pm.”
She said: “There was no light, no water, no security; they brought few mats for us that could not go round. We had to struggle to get mats.
“Some of the drivers who brought us started leaving around 2am, they told us that they wanted to get fuel for their vehicles and we have been stranded here because we learned the election has been postponed.
“There is no INEC official to talk to us about the development, no security and going out of this place is risky, we had to sleep outside in cold on the ground with the insufficient mats, we are no longer interested in this next level.”
We’re addressing the problem — INEC
Reacting, the Head of Public Relations Unit of the INEC in the state, Mr. Sadiq Abimbola said the commission was addressing the problems.
Abimbola said: “As I am talking to you, we are already addressing the matter.”
Meanwhile, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and his Osun State counterpart, Governor Gboyega Oyetola have described the postponement as painful just as they called for calm.
Postponement painful — Akeredolu
Speaking in Owo, Akeredolu said: “The postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was painful, more so that the announcement came to Nigerians very late.
“We have suffered a lot of inconveniences; let us turn it to weekend of rest particularly with our families.
“The electoral body must have been overwhelmed by unforeseen circumstances such as its inability to deliver electoral materials to all the needed places and replacement of damaged essentials materials and equipment in its offices burnt in parts of the country.
“It is not an election that can be staggered, It is a national election, it has to be held in one day. If there are areas where all needed election materials are not available, INEC has no option than to postpone until it is sure the materials are there.”
Oyetola urges calm
Also reacting, Governor Oyetola has urged citizens to remain calm and peaceful without losing interest in the electoral process.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary Mr. Adeniyi Adesina, the governor said: “I implore our people not to lose interest in the electoral process as a result of this temporary setback.
“All eligible voters should not be deterred but turn out en masse on February 23 and March 9 to cast their votes for the candidates of their choice.
“We should continue to have confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the electoral agency’s ability to conduct credible, free, fair and transparent elections as promised by its chair, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.”
S’West PDP tackles INEC
Meanwhile, the South West Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has condemned the last-minute postponement of the election, saying it confirms the unpreparedness of the INEC for the election.
In a statement by the Zonal Publicity Secretary, Mr. Ayo Fadaka, said: “We take due cognizance of the last minute postponement of the presidential and national assembly elections by INEC based on a flimsy excuse of logistics crisis, particularly in view of the numerous declarations of its preparedness to prosecute the elections on the dates previously fixed by it.
“This development, however, puts a lie to INEC’s numerous grandstanding and pointedly confirms its unpreparedness to conduct a nationwide election, an intention consistent with the desires of the APC, which if executed would have immediately created a political crisis in our nation.
“This sloppiness must stop and INEC must be prepared to discharge its allocated responsibilities firmly on the new dates fixed for the elections.
Afenifere chieftain flays INEC chairman
Also chiding the INEC chairman, an Afenifere chieftain, Senator Femi Okunrounmu has accused the INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu of working for the ruling APC to foist President Muhammadu Buhari on Nigerians.
He said this while speaking to Vanguard in Abeokuta on the postponement of the elections.
Okunrounmu alleged: “The APC leaders are the ones that forced him into the situation, where we have to have the election cancelled few hours before going to polls.
“We should blame INEC squarely because if INEC had been straight forward, and an organization with integrity, all these will never have happened.
“All the factors that led to the postponement would never have happened.
“If Mahmood Yakubu has been a man of integrity, if he had been an honest man; committed to giving us a free and fair election, all the problems that led to the postponement wouldn’t have arisen.
“From his incompetence, he cannot be trusted, but, we have to watch him. I have told you because, he has shown that he doesn’t have integrity, he is not independent; he is being manipulated by the incumbent government–the government of Buhari.”
Meanwhile, a House of Representatives candidate for Idanre/Ifedore federal constituency, Mr. Kayode Akinmade has urged party supporters to remain steadfast in their commitment to ensure victory for the party in the rescheduled general elections.
Akinmade, who expressed shock at the sudden postponement of the election, said the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, “has merely unfolded one of its strategies aimed at frustrating the electoral process, urging Nigerian electorates to be extra vigilant and be more resolute to their determination to defeat what he described as evil agenda of enemies of democracy in Nigeria.”