The Governorship Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, has expressed disappointment and shock over the postponement of Nigeria’s elections.
“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. This is not good for our democracy,” Agbaje said in a statement by his Director of Media and Publicity, Felix Oboagwina.
According to him, 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, God forbid, it now favours the ruling party,” the PDP chieftain said.
He said the commission had given no hint it would be a barren weekend for Nigerians geared up to vote.
“To voters and politicians, this comes as a rude anti-climax, especially as the INEC Chairman, Dr. Mahmood Yakubu, had always given assurances and expressed confidence that the process was tight, right and ready. International observers and the world Press are 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.”
According to Agbaje, 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.
Agbaje further said: “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.”
Agbaje also spoke of the consequences of the postponement that, he said, would end up disenfranchising many voters.
“This will throw our people into a dilemma, especially people who traveled. 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 wondered.
He hoped INEC would use the breathing 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,” Agbaje said. “The commission must plug all loopholes for rigging and guarantee confidence in the electoral process and the subsequent result.”