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Polls shift: We are shocked — Agbaje

The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, Mr Jimi Agbaje, has expressed disappointment and shock over the postponement of the general elections by one week.

Agbaje
Jimi Agbaje

Agbaje expressed the view in a statement by his Director of Media of Media and Publicity, Mr Felix Oboagwana, on Saturday in Lagos.

“We are disappointed as well as shocked that right on the eve of the polls, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can so summarily postpone elections that have taken so long for everyone to prepare for.

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“This is not good for our democracy.”

He said the postponement was capable of eroding confidence in the entire electoral process, apart from damaging the credibility of INEC.

“This can put a question mark on even the results of the elections, especially if it now favours the ruling party,” the PDP candidate said.

He said the commission had given no hint it would be a barren weekend for Nigerians as they geared up to vote.

Agbaje said the postponement came as a rude anti-climax to voters and politicians, especially as the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, had always given assurances and expressed confidence that the process was tight, right and ready.

He said that the polls shift came when international observers and media from across the world were also on ground.

“The whole world has its sight glued to Nigeria; and then you come up with this type of narrative about shoddy logistics.

“It is a shock. This came completely from the blue,’’ he said.

Agbaje said that the INEC Chairman, who had held his post since October 2015, and his team should have been on top of their game by perfecting all necessary arrangements.

“Although we shall refuse to subscribe to any conspiracy theories about the ruling party pressuring the commission to do any last-minute tinkering with the timetable in view of an imminent defeat, this still leaves room for suspicion.

“After all, we are not reinventing the wheel. This disarray represents an international embarrassment to the entire nation. Lesser nations have successfully conducted elections.

“At 20 years of this subsisting democracy, elections ought to be routine, something we should be taking in our strides.

“However, this will make Nigerians realise that democracy will not be given on a platter of gold.

“We must see this as a clarion call not to relent in demanding that the sanctity of elections and democracy must be guaranteed,’’ he said.

Agbaje said the postponement might result in apathy in the rescheduled election and might even end up disenfranchising many voters.

“This will throw our people into a dilemma, especially people who travelled.

” Will they now return to base or will they be determined enough to remain in their voting constituencies for one full, unplanned week in order to cast their vote?”

He expressed the hope that INEC would use the space offered by the shift to deliver a credible, free and fair election.

“As they say, to whom much is given, much is expected. With this postponement, INEC has no excuse for failure,

“The commission must plug all loopholes for rigging and guarantee confidence in the electoral process and the subsequent result,’’ he said.

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